Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Please welcome, friend and author, Joan Livingston...

... to my blog today.
Isabel Long’s partner in crime in Chasing the Case
Private investigators sometimes have a sidekick.  Isabel Long, the protagonist of my new mystery, Chasing the Case, has an unconventional one — her 92-year-old mother.  Yes, Maria Ferreira is Isabel’s Watson.
Maria came to live with Isabel after both got tired of living alone.  She looks and acts much younger than a woman her age.  She stays up much later than Isabel, reading or doing puzzles.
And when Isabel decided to take on her first case, she knew her mystery-loving mother could be a big help.  Ma, as Isabel calls her, is a huge fan of the genre. Often they watch shows together and figure out whodunit before the characters.
Isabel, who says she inherited her mother’s nosy gene, often brings her along on interviews she has with sources and even suspects.  Ma is a great listener.
And as she does in a crucial scene, she gives her daughter a piece of insight that is extremely helpful.
I do have a confession.  My own mother is the inspiration for this character.  She approves.  In fact, she’s one of the first to read the book. Yeah, she makes a great Watson.
Here’s an excerpt from Chasing the Case, which is written in first person.  Isabel tells her mother over dinner about the case.

I set down my spoon.
 “I want to ask you something,” I say. “You know a little bit about the town already. A woman who lived here all her life disappeared twenty-eight years ago in September. She used to work at the store when her parents owned it. One day she just didn’t show up. Two months later, a couple of local guys hunting deer found her car on an old logging road in the woods on the next town over, Wilmot. But she wasn’t in it. The doors weren’t locked. It was the first day of shotgun season.”
My mother’s head tips to one side. Besides being a nice kind of nosy, she’s read tons of detective novels and watches the same kinds of movies.
“Tell me more about her. What’s her name?”
“Adela Collins. She lived with her son, Dale, not far from the store. He’s still in town. She was the store’s cashier. People liked her. I never heard anyone say anything bad about her even before she disappeared. She was divorced twice, but both were a long time ago. I sometimes saw her at the Rooster. That’s the bar in town.”
“What about the son?”
“Dale was only ten when it happened. He doesn’t seem the child killer type to me. He went to live with his grandparents, but then he inherited his mother’s house. He’s kind of a sad sack.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him smile. He doesn’t stick with one job too long.”
“What about the cops?”
“They treated it like a missing person’s case. At least the seven years are long past, so the family could officially declare her dead and take care of the paperwork.”
“When was the last time anyone saw her?”
“Her son was sleeping over at his grandparents’ house that night, so it would’ve been after she left the store and walked home. It was a Monday evening. People said they saw the lights on at her house. They were still lit when her father came to check on her the next morning. Get this. Her dog was inside. Her purse was on the counter. Nothing was taken.”
My mother sits back in her chair.
“Why are you so interested?”

about the book...  How does a woman disappear in a town of a thousand people? That's a 28-year-old mystery Isabel Long wants to solve.
Isabel has the time given she just lost her husband and her job as the managing editor of a newspaper. (Yes, it's been a bad year.) And she's got a Watson — her 92-year-old mystery-loving mother who lives with her.
To help her case, Isabel takes a job at the local watering hole, so she can get up close and personal with those connected to the mystery.
As a journalist, Isabel never lost a story she chased. Now, as an amateur P.I., she's not about to lose this case.
about the author...Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, published by Crooked Cat Books, is her first mystery and the first in a series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I.
An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.
After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including Chasing the Case and its sequels.

You can follow Joan on her Website: Website  on Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  and on Goodreads

Friday, 18 May 2018

Published today...

...Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings

Miss Moonshine's Wonderful Emporium has stood in the pretty Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge for as long as anyone can remember.  With her ever-changing stock, Miss Moonshine has a rare gift for providing exactly what her customers need: a fire opal necklace that provides a glimpse of a different life; a novel whose phantom doodler casts a spell over the reader; a music box whose song links love affairs across generations.  One thing is for certain: after visiting Miss Moonshine's quirky shop, life is never the same again...

Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined to gether to create this collection of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart.  This intriguing mix of historical and contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry and beleive in the happy-ever-after.

Get the book... Miss Moonshine

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Please welcome, friend and author, Martin Geraghty...

... to my blog today.  Hello Martin and thanks for making time to be here, I know you've just had your first book published and I know how busy preparing for that can be.  So, tell me all about it... 

 MG  A Mind Polluted was published on May 10th.  Here's the blurb :

His world falls apart… 
Triggered by overhearing a confession from his mother's lips when he was a young boy, Connor Boyd carries the burden of the secret through his life. 
Is falling in love his saviour? Or will he embark on a journey down a self-destructive path which ultimately leads to his version of justice? 
Will he concentrate on his future, or be consumed by his past?

AW   What first got you into writing and why?
MG   Despite being an avid reader for many years, I had never contemplated writing until the murder of the MP Jo Cox in June 2016. This was at the time of the Brexit vote when there was a lot of anger and frustration. After the initial shock, I began to think about the person who committed this horrific act. What happened in their life that led them to this point? What was their childhood like? When details of his life became available the seed was sown for my novel.

AW  You've written a psychological thriller.  Was it all imagination or did you also undertake some research?
MG   There was very little research required for, A Mind Polluted.  It really is pure imagination.

AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
MG  When I was around three-quarters of the way through my novel, I began to write some short stories and have had the experience of reading some at a book launch and various spoken word events.

AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
MG  No, I would love that.  However, anywhere at home that is quiet does it for me.

AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
MG  I would choose to be a character in one of my favourite novels, This Is Memorial Device by David Keenan.  We would talk about obscure bands and how they were going to change the world.

Thank you Martin.  You can follow Martin on Amazon on his website  on twitter  and on Facebook 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

I'm reviwewing The Tenderness of Wolves...

... by Stef Penney

This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm so glad I took her advice and read it.

Set in 1860’s Canada in the isolated settlement of Dover River, Mrs Ross, the central character and a woman with an interesting history that is very gradually revealed, finds the body of a brutally murdered neighbour.  So, I know at the outset that I'm onto a good thing here, as I'm a great fan of murder mystery stories.

Inexplicably, Mrs Ross' seventeen-year-old adopted son, is apparently missing at precisely the same time.  At first, his absence is presented as nothing unusual because he likes to fish.  However, as the local investigation into the murder develops, his absence becomes more and more of a concern.  Wanting only to clear her son's name, Mrs Ross sets out to find the killer of her neighbour herself.

With wonderfully flowing prose, this story meanders across time frames and various remote 19th century settlements in Canada.  Thus, the setting becomes an integral and  beautifully described backdrop to a gently paced murder-mystery.  The harshness of the landscape, the difficulties of survival in such isolated trading posts and the tensions between Native Americans, the trading companies and the independent settlers all add to the intrigue and the final resolution of the case. 

This is a multi-layered story that keeps you turning the page and continues to intrigue right to the very end.  The characters are very well drawn and an interesting mix of the easily likeable, the love-to-hate and various shades in between.  A cast of characters that you really could expect to be living in such remote settlements.  A great read and I will be looking out for more of this author’s work.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Please welcome, friend and author Sue Roebuck...

... to my blog today.  Hello, Sue and I know your schedule is jam-packed so let's get to the questions...

AW  What is your current release?
SR   My new book is called Forest Dancer.  It’s set in Portugal (in a fictitious village near Sintra, which is about twenty kilometres south-west of Lisbon).  Sintra is part of a protected nature reserve and was the playground of past Portuguese royalty as it’s much cooler there in summer than in the city.  Forest Dancer is one of those novels that falls between genres but I think it would largely appeal to women rather than men.  It’s part romance, part suspense, part light-literary.

about the book... It’s a long way to go to create a new life for yourself.

Classical ballerina, Flora Gatehouse, has no choice but to take a risk. Having failed an important ballet audition in London, she moves to a small cottage in a forest just outside Lisbon, Portugal, her only inheritance following her father’s death. 

Soon, Flora is involved in village life, where fate takes a new twist when she becomes attracted to forest ranger, Marco. But they are off to a shaky start.
Can Flora find acceptance in a foreign land, in a magical place that harbours secrets and heartache?

AW   What first got you into writing and why?
SR   Nine years ago I had a medical problem which meant I couldn’t work (I was an English teacher for the Portuguese Civil Service).  With time on my hands, I could indulge myself in doing what I’d always wanted to – write.

Sue's Portugal
AW  You write Romance, Mystery, Fantasy, Contemporary novels.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
SR   Both, although I do a LOT of research.  Forest Dancer has a London classical ballerina as the main character and, despite what one reviewer said (she thought I was a ballerina too), I don’t know much about the profession.  I also had to research the trees in the Sintra area, as well as check the work of the other main character – a forest ranger.  My previous book, Rising Tide is also set in Portugal – on the Alentejo coast.  The main characters are fishermen which meant talking to lots of them.  I also have a female bullfighter in it, so I had to find one to talk to. I found one!

AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with short stories, for instance, or other genres?
SR   My second novel, Hewhay Hall, is a dark fantasy set in the contemporary UK.  I’m not quite sure where that came from but my imagination ran riot on that one.  And my first novel, Perfect Score was set in 1960s USA.  You can’t say I’m not eclectic. Perfect Score is about the obstacles facing two young men who fall in love.  Gay relationships weren’t easy at that time, and as one of the characters suffers from severe dyslexia he has an even harder time.

AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
SR   I’d go and visit Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit in his cottage.  And I’d take Charles Dickens with me.  I’d love to experience Hobbiton, the cottages and easy, friendly way of life.  I’d see if he’d take us to see Tom Bombadil in the forest (and maybe see an Ent?) to satisfy my love of trees.  As my books are very much setting and character oriented, I think Charles Dickens (who is definitely character-loving) could give me some brilliant ideas for future stories – even if they are fantasy.

AW   Most interesting.  Thanks for being here and I wish you well with the book.
SR   Thank you, Angela. It’s been fun chatting with you.

You can get her book here Forest Dancer

And you can follow Sue on Amazon  on her Blog

on her  Facebook page and on  Twitter

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A tribute to a favourite writer, Willa Cather

I first encountered Willa Cather as I was browsing in a second-hand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye.  Not an unusual occupation for me – browsing in bookshops, that is, not encountering Cather regularly.  That would be extremely difficult as she died 71 years ago today.
Born in Gore, Virginia, in 1873 and named Wilella Sibert Cather, she grew up to be a novelist of some repute, winning the Pullitzer Prize in 1922.  Her many books are still available as reprints or paperbacks, but modern copies don’t really interest me – hence my many hours of browsing.
My first purchase, on that occasion in Hay, was Sapphira and the Slave Girl, published in 1940.  My copy (not a first edition, unfortunately) is in pristine condition even though it has been read and re-read by me.  This was to be Cather’s last novel, published at a point when Europe was in absolute turmoil and occupied.  Something that made Cather fear for the future.  Although I didn’t know it at the time of my first reading of the novel, this book is one of the darkest she ever produced.
Cather wrote a dozen novels. One of Ours (1922), My Antonia (1918), A Lost Lady (1923), Shadows on the Rock (1931) and Sapphira being her most well-known. 
Something that I hadn’t realised that day in Hay, was that I had encountered Cather before, but in another guise.  Some years later, in another haven for books in Alnwick I found a collection of her poetry from 1913.  Once home again, I started reading through it and found a sonnet that I had used as a teenager for one of my Poetry Society exams.  It has since become a favourite and, as it is the anniversary of her death, I thought I would share it with you.


Alas, that June should come when thou didst go;
I think you passed each other on the way;
And seeing thee, the Summer loved thee so
That all her loveliness she gave away;
Her rare perfumes, in hawthorn boughs distilled,
Blushing, she in the sweeter bosom left,
Thine arms with all her virgin roses filled,
Yet felt herself the richer for thy theft;
Beggared herself of morning for thine eyes,
Hung on the lips of every bird the tune,
Breathed on thy cheek her soft vermillion dyes,
And in thee set the singing heart of June.
And so, not only do I mourn thy flight,
But summer comes despoiled of her delight.

                                        Willa Cather 1913  

Willa Cather December 7th, 1873 – April 24th, 1947.  Her grave is behind the Meeting House in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. The Willa Cather Foundation is centred in Red Cloud, Nebraska and the US postal service and mint honoured her by issuing stamps and a medallion, respectively. In 2011, she was inducted into the New York Writers’ Hall of Fame.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Flowers and Shakespeare

For World Book Day - which is also the date of the Bard's birth and death - I'm celebrating with sonnets and flowers...

Sonnet XCIV

They that have the power to hurt and will do none,  
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation;
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with the base infection meet,
The basest weed out-braves his dignity;
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

Sonnet LIV

O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-looms have full as deep a dye
 As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
 Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly,
 When summer’s breath their masked buds           discloses;
 But for their virtue only is their show,
 They live unwooed, and unrespected fade,
 Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
 Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made;
 And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth;
 When that shall vade, my verse distills your truth.

Sonnet XCIX

The forward violet thus did I chide;
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells, 
If not from my love’s breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol’n thy hair:
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red not white, had stol’n both
And to his robbery had annex’d thy breath;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or colour it had stol’n from thee.