A walk in Swiss woods… #travel (almost) #SilentSunday

After all the rain we’ve had recently, it was good to have some sunshine last week. I thought I’d walk through the woods and see how the beaver dams (there are three) were getting on.

The first section of the wood
This previously dried up ditch has (a little) water in it now.
You can tell which trees are standing in the beaver pond…
The newest – and furthest from the lake – dam.
From the side
The beaver pond with the trees standing in it.

I tried to go on to the second dam, but it was so wet and muddy underfoot I gave up, and continued along the road to the third one nearest the lake and – I think – the oldest one.

Dam Three

I didn’t see evidence of new beaver activity – but maybe next time!

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A budgie called Balthasar…

Naming your pets – not to mention your children and your characters – can be tricky… A blast from the past this week, before I start clearing out old blog posts to make way for some new ones.

linda huber

budgie-191007_1280So the new princess is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. A tactful choice that – presumably – pleased everyone in the family. I’m glad they included Diana.

It isn’t easy, choosing a name for a new arrival, no matter how many legs they have. Many and varied were the discussions in our house before Son 1 arrived. We wanted our baby to have his very own name, not a family name. And it should go with our surname, and not be contractible into something daft. One of my favourites – Laurent – went right out the window when I heard a child in a shop call after his brother, ‘Lolo! Lolo!’ There are limits.

Son 2 was even more difficult. This time, we knew it was boy, but it still took twice as long to make our choice. When he arrived I heaved a sigh of relief. Our family was complete, no…

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Classic Comfort Reads… with Jane Cable

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 historical fiction writer Jane Cable, who also writes as Eva Glyn and whose dual timeline romance The Forgotten Maid is currently 99p/c on kindle – more about that later.
Over to Jane:


Poldark, by Winston Graham
Having not watched either TV series I came to Poldark late, but particularly after moving to Cornwall I promised myself I would read the books. The way Graham brings the era in the county to life; the high and the low people, the rough and the smooth, is testament to his skill as a writer, his descriptions sliding seamlessly into the wonderful stories he weaves.
His research is impeccable too, but I have caught him out just the once. In The Black Moon, which is set in 1794-5, the Poldarks visit the Daniell family at Trelissick, but they didn’t move to the house until 1803. It’s an obscure piece of knowledge though; if I hadn’t been researching the Daniells for The Forgotten Maid then I wouldn’t have known.


The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilchard
I read this book when it first came out and have loved it ever since. It’s the character of Penelope Keeling that drew me into it; it was so very refreshing, at a time when the most popular books were bonk-busters, to have a protagonist in her later years. There was something about her that reminded me of my mother too.

To me, everything about the book is perfect; the family tensions so skilfully drawn, the echoes of Penelope’s past that made her who she is. And the ending. I sobbed and sobbed. And I do it every time.

Thank you, Jane! I love the Poldark books too; I have them all in paperback, but I must confess I preferred the original TV series to the new one. And The Shell Seekers has been on my tbr list forever – maybe this winter…

The Forgotten Maid is one of five books Jane has written under her own name, all standalone women’s fiction. It’s set in lovely Cornwall, so grab yourselves a bargain while it’s on offer. Here’s the blurb:

Two centuries apart, two lonely women seek a place to call home

Cornwall, 2015

Nomadic project manager Anna Pritchard has arrived in the village of Porthnevek to oversee the construction of a trendy new glamping site. But with many members of the local community strongly opposed to the development, she quickly finds herself ostracised and isolated.
Seeking to ease her loneliness, Anna begins volunteering at a nearby National Trust once owned by the aristocratic Daniell family. Anna spends more and more time steeped in local history, and it seems that the past and the present are beginning to collide…

Cornwall, 1815

After losing her brother in the Battle of Waterloo, French army seamstress Thérèse Ruguel finds herself in Cornwall as a lady’s maid to kindly Elizabeth Daniell.
Able to speak only a little English — and with the other servants suspicious of her — Thérèse feels lost and alienated. And when she discovers her brother may still be alive, she is forced to trust an enigmatic smuggler. Will it be the biggest mistake of her life?

Jane Cable’s books are romance with a ghostly twist and a look over the shoulder at the past, her Cornish Echoes series inspired by her love of the county where she has made her home. She also writes relationship driven fiction as Eva Glyn for One More Chapter, an imprint of Harper Collins.

You can find out more about Jane and her books on her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Next month’s Classic Comfort post comes from Georgia Rose, who writes both psychological and romantic suspense. I’ll leave you now with two of Jane’s lovely book covers.

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New Book… #amwriting #coverreveal

And here it is, the sensational cover image for my new book, The Un-Family, which will be published on November 15th. Big thanks here to Hobeck Books and their cover designer Jayne Mapp, who also designed the images for Daria’s Daughter and Pact of Silence.

What’s it about? In a word – family. The Martins. There’s Holly, who’s a vet and married to Dylan, a stressed businessman. Dylan’s twin brother Seth lives in a nearby village, as does their mum Elaine and sixteen-year-old niece Megan. The book starts with a prologue, where a body is hurtling down a river in flood, then chapter one takes us back a couple of weeks, and the action continues from there.

Whose body?
How is it connected to the Martin family??
How – and why – did it end up in the river???

All will be revealed in November. Until then, watch out for news of the back cover blurb, and details about the blog tour.
In two weeks – no blog post next weekend – we’re having historical fiction writer Jane Cable/Eva Glyn and her choice of clossic comfort books. See you then!

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Sunshine in Switzerland… #SilentSunday #travel

Water… a weekend walk to the lake.

It makes such a difference where the sun is – the two last photos were taken less than a minute apart, but looking in different directions.

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Classic Comfort Reads… with Rae Sargeant

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 writer Rae Sargeant, who also writes as Rachel Sargeant. Her first novel with Hobeck Books was published last Tuesday. I started it on Friday, and it’s one of those books you really don’t want to put down. More about it later, and meanwhile, over to Rachel:


(Rachel’s own image)

Precious Bane by Mary Webb.
Unexpectedly, my favourite book. I say ‘unexpectedly’ for two reasons. One: I only read it because I was living in Shropshire and wanted to know about this celebrated local author. Two: As a romance, it is not the genre this cold-hearted crime reader normally chooses. But it hooked me. It’s written in a dialect of nineteenth century country people which takes a bit of getting used to but ultimately works well. I love the blossoming relationship between Prue and Kester, two intelligent, compassionate people in a cruel, narrow-minded community. Nearly one hundred years after publication, the wry humour still works.


One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
This was another accidental read, only picked up when I’d run out of books away from home. Private investigator Jackson Brodie witnesses a road rage incident when he’s queuing for an Edinburgh Fringe show. The author takes us into the heads of other witnesses, too, and we follow this motley bunch as they go about their apparently separate lives, dancing to their very different tunes. But, of course, the author eventually brings them together in a perfect symphony of comedy and crime. I didn’t see the ending coming and just thinking about it puts a big grin on my face.

Thank you, Rachel – I’d never heard of Precious Bane, but it sounds intriguing!

Rachel’s new release Her Deadly Friend is the first in the Gleveham Killers Suspense series to be published by Hobeck Books. Here’s the blurb:

Rachel signing copies at Painswick Rococo Garden.

Her Deadly Friend – the closer she gets, the more people die

The Suspect
Bullied by Steph Lewis at school, then betrayed by her lover, Amy Ashby still seethes with fury. Despite the decades-old resentment, she’s on the hunt for a new man and a fresh start. This time for keeps.

The Stalker
When both women are stalked by a figure from their shared past, danger threatens.

The Detective
Now Detective Inspector, Steph follows a tip-off to her old rival. After quarrels exploded beyond the playground and changed lives forever, she vowed never to see Amy again. But that was then.

The Deaths
Murder rocks the city. First one, then another. The body count reaches five, and all Steph’s leads point to Amy. But is Steph obsessed with a schoolgirl vendetta or closing in on a deadly killer?

Under the name Rae Sargeant, Rachel writes the Gleveham Killers Suspense series, published by Hobeck Books. Her Deadly Friend is the first title. As Rachel Sargeant, she writes psychological thrillers and crime fiction with HarperCollins.

Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, studied at Aberystwyth University, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her family. Her hobbies are swimming, watching amateur theatre, and visiting country houses and coffee shops. She loves reading in a range of genres and chats about books on her monthly blog.

You can find out more about Rachel on her website, on Twitter, Facebook and BookBub.

Next month’s Classic Comfort post will be by historical fiction writer Jane Cable. I’ll leave you with an image of Rachel’s blog tour, which is still ongoing – have a look at what the bloggers are saying about the book!

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#Wildlife in Switzerland… #nature #birds

Our flat here in N.E. Switzerland is metres away from a belt of woodland. In winter, the view to the north is tall tree trunks with Lake Constance and Germany beyond, and in summer we have peaceful shades of leafiness on the other side of the balcony railing. One effect of this is we get a motley selection of birds whizzing past at all hours of the day. Another is the fact that the dawn chorus is all the alarm clock you need in summer, which is sometimes a good thing…

I’m not very good at birdsong. In fact until a week or so ago, the only ones I could identify by the noise they make were crows and cuckoos, which are kind of obvious, and woodpeckers, not quite the same thing. But at some point this spring I became aware of a different bird voice, one with a very distinctive call. It stuck around, although I never saw it in the woods, and one day when it spent all morning yelling at its mate who yelled right back, I went online to see if I could find out more. Long story short, I couldn’t. I had no idea what it looked like, and none of the bird calls I listened to were ‘my’ bird.

Then Son 2 came for a visit and heard the bird too. Random googling is not Son 2’s thing. Within minutes, he had recorded the bird call, uploaded it to an ornithology site, and received an answer. ‘Our’ bird was a Red Kite. This meant little to me until I saw a picture, and yes, I had seen these birds circling around overhead several times. I just had no idea they sounded like they do. They’re rather splendid… If you want to hear them, have a listen on Youtube.

A few days later, I saw them circling overhead again, and this time they were calling to each other as they went. They’re still around – I wonder if they’ll stay, or come back next year?

Next week, writer Rachel Sargeant will be here with her choice of classic comfort books and also her own new release, out on Tuesday.
I’ll leave you with another Red Kite. Don’t think I’d like to get too close to them…

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Happy publication day, Helen Pryke! #books

I’m very pleased to have a publication day post on the blog today as the fifth novel in Helen Pryke’s Healers series comes out. I’ve read all these books and can thoroughly recommend them.
Over to Helen to tell us a little about the books:

“It’s hard to believe it’s over, but The Healer’s Legacy is the final book in the Healer series. Five years, and five books later, I wrote ‘The End’ for the last time. It was a bitter-sweet moment, as the healers, the cottage, and the Dragonfly Grove have been such a constant part of my life.

It all started in 2017, when I had the idea for a story of a woman who came across the skeleton of a baby in her garden. As I started writing, she evolved into Jennifer, who has problems with alcohol and her marriage, and her desperate mother, who is so worried about her daughter that she suggests Jennifer goes to stay in her great-grandmother Luisa’s cottage in Tuscany. This became The Healer’s Secret, the first book in the series.

I had already set up the prologue with Agnes in the 1300s, and had the plot all laid out in my mind. One story, one book. But then Luisa, who should only have appeared for a paragraph or so, demanded that her story be told. And what a story! Her heartbreaking secret, her strength in an abusive marriage, her desperate desire to do anything to save her children, took over the whole of the first book. Jennifer still had much to resolve, and I wanted to see how she would grow over time, so I continued the story in book two.

The Healer’s Curse takes us back to the origins of the healers. Agnes, a servant in England in the 1300s, is betrothed to Ted. But the year is 1348, and the plague is about to break out. This is her story of how she flees across the country, making her way to London with a young stable boy, Bob, and how they end up on a ship to Genoa. There she meets Riccardo Innocenti, the Conte de Gallicano, and begins a new life in Tuscany. But there is a darkness that threatens their safety.

Jennifer’s present is entwined with the past, when she keeps having visions of a young girl. After learning Agnes’s story, she realises there is a curse on the family, and that she is the one who must save them.

Although the series is historical fiction, there are also elements of magical realism. The dragonflies in the Grove, the healing properties of the silver-leaf plant, the legend of the dragonflies bestowing healing powers on humans, and the shadowy ghosts from the past that only a healer can see, all add to the magic of the stories.

Books three and four, The Healer’s Awakening and The Healer’s Betrayal, follow the lives of Sara and Morgana Innocenti.

1880. Sara has no idea of her heritage as a healer, until the day she follows a dragonfly and comes across the abandoned cottage in the woods. Determined to learn everything she can about them, despite being forbidden by her strict parents’, she is helped by Bernardo, the elderly groom. As she discovers more about her ancestors, long-hidden secrets come out and tragedy is waiting around the corner.

1614. Morgana has been deaf since the age of 8, after a childhood illness. At 16 she is already a skilful healer, but a deathbed confession and the threat of a centuries-old vow of revenge throws her life into turmoil. Forced into a loveless marriage, she lives in fear of the witch hunters making their way to Tuscany. After her daughter, Gemma, is born with a birthmark on her stomach, she knows she must do everything she can to keep the witch hunters away. But someone is about to commit the ultimate betrayal, and Morgana must sacrifice everything she holds dear.

When I started book five, The Healer’s Legacy, I had two ideas that I knew I couldn’t change. One, that this would be the last book in the series, and two, that Nicholas Culpeper had to feature in it. Nicholas wrote The English Physician, later entitled The Complete Herbal, and made sure it was accessible to even the poorest families. Up until then, most medical texts were in Latin, and poor people couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit. There is little known about him, but I took what scant information I could find and brought him into Gemma’s life. She teaches him about healing and herbal remedies, and he becomes a dear friend to her during a difficult time.

There is more magic and witchcraft in this story, and a wonderful friendship between Gemma, Katherine and Julia-Ann that is destined to last even beyond the grave. And the past and present entwine once more, bringing Jennifer back into the story, five years after we last saw her. She realises there is one more thing for her to do to ensure that her family will be safe for years to come, and won’t rest until it is done.

The Healer’s Legacy wraps up the series, explaining some of the things from the previous books (such as how the Hanging Tree and the soul catcher from The Healer’s Awakening came to be), and I hope that fans of the saga will be happy with how I ended it. And who knows, maybe sometime in the future we’ll go back to the Dragonfly Grove and see how the Innocenti are getting on!”

Thank you, Helen! As well as the books, I love those cover images!
Here’s the blurb for The Healer’s Legacy:

From medieval times to present day, the Healer saga spans generations of the Innocenti family, telling the stories of the women healers whose lives are entwined with legends, curses, and tragedy.

A healer should do no harm. But Gemma Innocenti wants revenge.

Stricken with grief after her mother’s death and forced from her home by the witch hunters, Gemma makes the arduous journey from Tuscany to her uncle’s house in Avignon with her mare, Ombra. Travelling alone and with the threat of danger ever present, she is determined nothing will stop her from getting her vengeance.

When the past catches up with her, she must leave France and travel to England. Retracing the first healer’s steps, she finds witchcraft and friendship where she least expects it.

However, the haunting song of the Dragonfly Grove tugs at her heart, and she knows that one day she will return. And then she discovers that the silver dagger that Morgana hid years before once again threatens her family…

Meanwhile, Jennifer is writing a book about the healers. Gemma’s story intrigues her. What happened to the dagger and why does it hold a deadly power over the healers?

When past and present collide, Jennifer realises she must find the dagger and destroy the centuries-old curse. But time is running out and her family is in danger.

Is this the end of the healers?

You can find out more about Helen and her books on Amazon, her website and on social media, and see The Healer’s Legacy HERE in your local Amazon Store.

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#amwriting in a heatwave… #summer ’22

It’s been hottish, these past few weeks. I’ve often wished my ‘writing cave’ was a real cave, deep in a windswept cliff, perhaps, with lovely cold water running down the walls and bats flapping in and out. Or maybe not.

I have two very different writing projects on the go at the moment. Think black and white, or summer and winter, or even up and down – so switching between them has kept me awake, if rather disorientated. The first is psychological suspense book twelve – eek! – to be published by Hobeck Books on November 15th. The structural edit is done and I’m working on the copy editor’s feedback now. The book has also been to my small team of trusted first readers, and I’ll be pulling all their comments and suggestions together this week. We’re not quite as far on as I’d thought, because both the cover designer and the copy editor have had covid, but there’s plenty of time before November.

One comment from Sue, the copy editor, made me laugh. The main character in this book is a vet, and one day she was treating a badger with a head injury. Someone asked if it would make it, and she replied that it ‘wasn’t out of the woods yet’. Sue’s comment here was that given that the badger was probably desperate to get back INTO the woods, I maybe hadn’t used quite the right turn of phrase at this point…

My other project is the series of feel-good novels I’m adapting from my old novella series set right here in Switzerland by our lovely lake. I’m going to self-publish these next year, starting in springtime and with book four – the Christmas book – coming out late autumn. This is the one I’m working on at the moment, and it isn’t half odd having your characters running around shovelling snow and decorating Christmas trees while it’s 34°C outside and you’re sitting melting in your shorts and flip flops. I have to say, I’m enjoying being in feel-good land again. Not a dead body in sight, and no bleeding badgers, either.

Last week, I got to talk about both projects when crime writer Louise Mangos and I made a podcast with the lovely ladies at Book Lover’s Companion in Vienna. (At least, the ladies were in Vienna; Louise and I were in Switzerland and we were all on Zoom.) The finished podcast will be out later in the month.

So that’s been my writing world this summer. Others writers have been busy too. On Tuesday, we’re having an extra blog post; Helen Pryke will be here to talk about her new release. The Healer’s Legacy is the final book in her ‘Healers’ series. I’ve read it, and it’s a corker!

I’ll leave you with a photo of our lake, taken last Wednesday from the train halt down the road here (it isn’t really big enough to call a station). The different shades of the water are caused by the Bise wind coming from the north. Good because it keeps the temperature down a little, bad because it’s a dry wind and we REALLY need some rain…

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Summer in Switzerland, and the fire next door… #SilentSunday(almost) #travel

A few photos of two of the trips I took this summer. (More to follow later in the month.)

Over the lake to Friedrichshafen in Germany. Click on the pics to see the uncropped version:

A walk around the Gubsensee reservoir in canton St Gallen:

For dramatic effects, though, we didn’t have to look further than next door, the day when it was 34°C and windy, and the building site went on fire… Fortunately, barring one case of smoke inhalation, no one was injured, but I have a new respect for firefighters now:

Next week, we’ll have some #amwriting news. I’ll leave you with an early-morning photo of our beautiful lake. Not a bad view when you’re trundling your shopping home from the supermarket:

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