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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy 1st Anniversary

Today we have the last in our fun spooky tale, Halloween Hysteria, but before you sit back and read the gripping final part, it's also our First Anniversary today!

A lot has happened in our first year, it's been an amazing year and all of it down to a solid Group of authors who work together to not only promote the Group and each other, but who care and share.

Thank you to our amazingly talented authors, our dedicated readers and our wonderful sponsors.
And a special thank you to everyone who has taken time out to visit our dynamic website and support the Group.

Thank you again and let us promise to meet and celebrate together this time next year for our 2nd Anniversary!

Now back to Halloween Hysteria, the final part ...


‘Good God,’ cried Beatrice. ‘My trusty servant, Jean Bland?’

Jean’s back arched, lips pulled back in a snarl, her gaze transfixed on Carlton.
Carlton came at her, his lithe frame speeding across the room. Jean flexed her shoulders and returned the charge, trying to throw him off balance.

Beatrice saw her lover fighting with her most trusted servant. Tears welled in her eyes at the thought of Carlton killing Jean. But there was also a tingle of relief at the idea Jean may rid her of her dilemma.

The snarls from Jean’s throat grew louder, her jaws snapping with more force. Beatrice remembered the other power, besides a stake, that could take her love away forever. She cast around looking for something that could do some harm.


Carlton and Jean tumbled across the floor in a tangle of limbs and sounds she knew, long remembered in her dreams. They catapulted into the full length mirror, shards of glass cascading across their bodies as Jean strained to put her mouth on the exposed flesh of his arm. Through sheer willpower and brute force, Carlton had his legs around her torso and was squeezing Jean’s rib cage. The cracking of bones was akin to a horse’s steps on cobblestone.

‘Master!’ Jean cried out as Carlton bore down on her. ‘Help me.’

Beatrice inched forward, picking up the nearest piece of glass. In her haste, she sliced her index finger. The scent of blood wafted across the room, the two fighting on the floor snapped their attention to her for a split second. Evil filled the chamber.


There was only one chance to prevent Carlton from returning to the grave. Dropping to her knees, Beatrice closed her eyes and prayed to the Almighty. Only He was powerful enough to overcome the dark power.

‘Lord, hear my prayer. You have given me back my soul mate. Please do not let him return to the darkness.’ She clutched the golden cross that hung around her neck and repeated her prayer aloud.

Her words threw the struggling couple into disarray and they rolled apart.
‘Don’t call on Him, my love, his power will separate us for ever!’

Jean crouched like an animal, hissing through her fangs, ‘Master, Master, come for me before it is too late. She is calling on our enemy.’


Beatrice ignored the pleas and continued to pray. ‘Lord, do not let Carlton become a vampire. Let him live as a mortal, or take him into your arms for all eternity.’

Jean groaned and shrunk even smaller.
Carlton seemed transfixed. He remained half-sitting, half-lying against the wall; his face was ashen and his eyes beseeched Beatrice to stop. Why didn’t he speak to her? He must know this was the only way to free him from the curse. She had plunged the wooden stake into his heart at his request. He had begged her to end his torment even if it meant they were to be separated. She had promised not to bury his remains but keep them in the priest hole until the time came to revive him.

A sliver of gold shone through the closed curtains and as it trickled across the floorboards Jean whimpered, and Carlton held out his hand as if imploring someone for help. But was he asking for God’s help or for Satan’s?


A deep, booming voice resonated through the bedchamber, reverberating off the walls and chiming through their bones.

What is going on here?’

The three figures in the gloomy room grew quiet and still. Their pale faces raised in the direction of the voice.

Only Beatrice spoke, uttering tremulously, ‘Who is it? Who are you? Have you come to save us, Almighty God?’

‘God? God? You foolish woman! Don’t you know there is no such thing as God?’

As the voice died away, Jean Bland appeared to revive. Her spine straightened, vigour returned to her limbs, her ribs popped audibly back into place. She raised her head, eyes glittering triumphantly.

‘So, is it you, Master?’ she called out.
There was a chilling answering laugh. The others shivered at the sound.


‘And who do you mean by Master?’ boomed the disembodied voice.

‘Satan, of course,’ she replied.

Another laugh echoed forth, although this time it sounded more amused than evil.

‘Isn’t that you? My master... Satan?’ Jean was now sounding less confident.

‘If there is no such thing as God, there is no such thing as Satan either. They are man-made constructs to explain the universe and your place in it.’

‘So tell us who you are?’ Beatrice implored. She had been clasping her crucifix, in desperate prayer. She now let it fall back inside the neck of her dress and struggled up from where she had been kneeling. After brushing the glass and dust from her dress, she sneezed again. ‘Are you a phantasm conjured by the gypsy’s curse?’


A deep sigh was the response this time. ‘No! No such thing as God, Satan, the paranormal, curses, voodoo, ghouls, magic, werewolves, zombies and, before you ask... no vampires.’
Carlton had also clambered to his feet, using the bedpost to assist him. A faint tinge of rose had flushed back into his pale cheeks. He stared into the shadows from where the voice seemed to emanate.

‘But then... what are we?’ he asked of the spectral voice.

‘Man’s capacity for self-deception is limitless. Add in auto-suggestion and there you are!’
‘I see,’ said Jean Bland, sounding hurt and huffy. ‘But I don’t think that’s a good enough explanation for what we have all just experienced.’


‘Did I not mention hysteria, delusion and self-hypnosis? Take your pick. Now, I’m off to celebrate Halloween with a cup of tea and an early night with a book. I’ve a good one on the go at the moment. Torn. No idea how it’s going to end. So I’ll say goodnight. My advice to you all is stop being so silly! Go back downstairs and enjoy your party. The staff have it all laid on, and the Squire is waiting impatiently for you. By the way, he already suspects your secret, Beatrice, so sorry, he won’t be allowing you to drink tonight. But by all means all of you, wear your scary masks, bob for apples and light a pumpkin head if you must, but for goodness sake, don’t believe in any of it!’

‘But...?’

‘And remember, the most important thing you must do tonight is raise a glass to the first anniversary of Famous Five Plus! Now I must go... Goodbye. Goodbye…’ The voice was fading fast.


Beatrice stepped forward into the shadows. ‘Stop! Wait! You didn’t tell us your name! Who are you?’ she called into the darkness.

A faint cry drifted back from the ethers. ‘Richard Dawwwwwwwwwkins!’





Halloween Hysteria! is a collective story by 12 members:

Pauline Barclay, Bea Davenport, Suzy Turner, Chris Longmuir, Miriam Wakerly, Caroline James, Debbi Ingram, Valissa Enever, Joanna Lambert, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Fenella J Miller & Gilli Allan


Edited by Kit Domino who runs a professional editing service for Authors.

Thank you for stopping by and we hope you enjoyed Halloween Hysteria! We had great fun writing it.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Part Two of Halloween Hysteria....!

There's just one day left to our our First Anniversary, Wednesday 31st October and to celebrate our first year, we're having a little fun with an exclusive, anniversary halloween story. And like everything we do at Famous Five Plus it is a Group effort. Today you can read part TWO of, Halloween Hysteria. Be prepared to chilled, thrilled and…..!


Halloween Hysteria
Part TWO

Beatrice shook her head in an attempt to clear the fog that dimmed her memory. The room was icy cold and her lover’s voice seemed to echo eerily through the rafters.
‘Come, Marm.’ Jean held the door and together they stumbled onto the steps.
Beatrice felt weak but was determined to reach her room and continue her prayers. Instead, her housekeeper led her to the priest hole, where the decorations were stored in sacks. She wondered if the gypsy with the sick child had put a new curse on the house – would the demons return and the past continue to haunt her? She clutched her stomach and sighed as she felt the stirring of new life. Beatrice steadied herself. She had no interest now in decorations. She commanded Jean to help her back to her room.
Reluctantly, Jean replied, ‘Yes, Marm,’ and guided her away from the icy fingers of dankness that seemed now to slide and creep around the walls.
The mistress of the Hall looked pale, but to Jean the dank musty smell was comforting. He was close. She sensed his presence.
A little while later, having attended to her mistress, Jean Bland scurried quickly back to the priest hole. The cold metal of the key buried deep in the heavy cloth of her skirt seemed to be pressing into her flesh and was demanding she obey its calling. When she was certain no prying eyes were near, she removed the key, and pushing the creaking priest hole open, held the key out in her trembling hand.


‘Master,’ she whispered urgently, ‘I have come for you. The key is finally ours!’
Jean could smell her master. Her real master. It was the scent of a thousand or more years of power and blood lust. She trembled and ran her tongue nervously over her fangs, knowing she could not, would not refuse him anything. His power thrilled and terrified her.
Jean’s eyes widened with horror when her master had finished speaking. His words hung in the air, reaching cold, dark tendrils of fear that wrapped around her heart. She had no choice but to obey his commands, but how could she find the strength to do so?
‘You must kill Beatrice!’ His command rang repeatedly in her mind. Jean trembled with fear; those three years ago she had only just got away and Beatrice was none the wiser as to who she really was.
It was here, always here in Satchfield Hall that the power was so great, she could feel it. It raced through her, and their time was nigh, most especially now that her master had the key.
The only thing that concerned Jean was the gypsy – did she know? If she knew what had happened three years ago then perhaps she knew of their plan and all that could be done once they had supreme power. She shivered at the thought of the thrill once that supreme power was unleashed, which only her master could unlock on Halloween night.
Jean came back to her senses as her master’s voice rang through her ears once more.
‘You must kill Beatrice!’


Jean knew why she had to do it, and she knew that it was necessary for them to complete their objective, an objective they would almost have completed before, if only they’d not been defeated.
She knew where Beatrice was and looked up towards her room. Beatrice was mortal, therefore easy to kill.
There was nobody around. Trying to remain calm and quiet she crept, one step at a time. With each pace she tried to formulate a plan to kill the mistress of the Hall. Slowly and quietly she opened the door into Beatrice’s room.
Jean entered and stood at the foot of the four-poster bed, her eyes fixed on the sleeping form of her mistress. Now she was in such close proximity, killing her did not seem as easy a task as she had first imagined. True Beatrice was mortal, but as Jean did not possess the powers of her master, she knew she would have to resort to earthly methods to carry out his bidding.
Her first thoughts were to smother Beatrice with a pillow, but that would mean pulling it from under her head first, and if she woke, the crucial element of surprise would be gone.
Jean looked around the room for something else to use and spotted a heavy brass doorstop behind the door. Something like that, she knew, would crush her mistress’s skull in seconds. She crossed the room to pick it up but found, even with two hands, it was only possible to lift it inches from the carpet.
‘What are you doing, you foolish woman?’ She heard the master’s voice boom in her head. ‘Why make it difficult for yourself? Go to the passageway behind the kitchen. There is a bottle of rat poison on the top shelf. Mix it with warm wine and administer to your mistress. It’s as simple as that.’

Jean made her way back up to Beatrice’s room. Carefully holding the silver goblet containing the mixture of warm wine and poison, she quietly began to push open the bedroom door.
Oh! She made no sound but her eyes widened in surprise.
There, reflected in the long gilded mirror, stood her mistress with a man Jean had hoped never to see again. She shivered and stood, silently transfixed, watching from the half open door.
The man’s hair was as black as a moonless night, and his skin as white as the soft puffy clouds that hung in the sunlit sky. Carlton Livingstone was no longer a lost soul, kept under lock and key in that cold room in the attic. His body had been revived.
Goosebumps shivered up the back of Jean’s neck as she hesitated, not knowing whether to continue on her quest to kill, or to turn back to her true master to tell him of the return of Carlton Livingstone.

Undecided, she remained exactly where she was, watching the tall, handsome man as he leaned forward towards the woman he loved. He gently moved her long brown curls to one side, revealing her elegant, ripe neck. Carlton had waited a long time for this. Just as he bared his teeth, ready to taste his true love, the scent of another kind filled his nostrils and he cried out in.
‘Be gone, creature of the deep, be gone!’ he yelled.
A look of pure shock filled Beatrice’s eyes as Carlton flung open the door and dragged Jean into the room. Instantly, Jean began hissing, revealing eyes the colour of coal and fangs behind her blood red lips.

..... the final part tomorrow!

Halloween Hysteria! is a collective story by 12 members:

Pauline Barclay, Bea Davenport, Suzy Turner, Chris Longmuir, Miriam Wakerly, Caroline James, Debbi Ingram, Valissa Enever, Joanna Lambert, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Fenella J Miller & Gilli Allan

Edited by Kit Domino who runs a professional editing service for Authors.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Halloween Hysteria, Part One of Our Anniverary Celebrations


We're on count down to our our First Anniversary on Wednesday 31st October and to celebrate our first year, we've decided to have a little fun with an exclusive, anniversary halloween story. And like everything we do at Famous Five Plus it is a Group effort. Today you can read part one of, Halloween Hysteria. Be prepared to chilled, thrilled and…..!


Halloween Hysteria
Part One

The organisation needed to take place swiftly, as it was a last minute decision.
‘It’s a milestone and a celebration is needed,’ chorused the staff from below stairs. They stood, hands on hips or plunged into apron pockets, as they stared at the mistress who had descended to the servants’ quarters.
‘Marm, it’s a special occasion being the first anniversary,’ drawled Jean Bland, the housekeeper.
‘That may be, but it is also Halloween. A time I feel is inappropriate for such a celebration,’ ventured Beatrice, the mistress of Satchfield Hall.

A silence descended over the staff as twelve pairs of eyes focused on their mistress. A shiver rippled down Beatrice’s spine at the ominous looks she was receiving, so she hastily added, ‘Though I dare say the Squire will be keen to celebrate. I shudder to think what theme he would expect from such a mixed celebration, where one element is of congratulation and the other of ghosts and demons.’
‘If you don’t mind, Marm, leave it with us and we’ll come up with two menus and a theme for the party and then you can talk with the Squire to decide which would be most appropriate.’


A look of uncertainty brought creases to Beatrice’s forehead. ‘That sounds a good idea, though after what happened three years ago here at the Hall, I am rather nervous. However, please do think amongst yourselves. In the meantime, I will be dedicating the next few hours to prayer.’
Beatrice waited until all the staff had gone about their work before she hurried up to her room and closed the door tightly behind her. She leaned against it, taking a deep breath, hoping to slow the beating of her heart. Then she made her way to the small, jewelled cabinet in the corner of the room and slipped her hand inside a drawer.
She felt around amongst the beads and trinkets until she was able to slide back a section that opened a small, secret compartment. Her fingers closed around a cold piece of metal and she pulled out an iron key. It was a key she hadn’t used for three long years. Simply holding it again set her whole body trembling. She fought the urge to throw the key out of her window, in the hope it would never be seen again, but she was in too deep to leave things as they were.

Beatrice slipped the key up her velvet sleeve then made her way out into the silent corridor. Glancing around to make sure no curious servants were following her, she crept up the steps to the very top floor of the Hall, to the attic where a heavy, deep-green curtain concealed a locked door. All the servants, even Jean Bland, believed the door had been thoroughly sealed. Only Beatrice knew that a twist of the key would open not just a heavy, oak-panelled door, but also a gateway to the past. Somewhere she’d hoped never to return.
She slipped behind the curtain and with shaking fingers inserted the key into the lock. Did she really want to do this? Wasn’t it better to let what was on the other side of the door remain in the past? But her heart told her something different.


Grasping the key firmly she forced it to turn in the lock, put her shoulder to the door, and pushed.
The darkness was only relieved by a sliver of light slanting through the crack in the closed wooden shutters. But that sliver was enough to illuminate the coffin in the centre of the room.

Her footsteps disturbed puffs of dust as she crossed the floor and knelt in front of it, and with her hands resting on the lid, waited for her sneezing to stop. It gave her time to think. Did she really, really want to do this? But the urge was too strong. It was her beloved inside the coffin and she needed to see him once again.

The lid was surprisingly easy to move, and at last she stared down on him.
He was as beautiful as ever. He had not aged, his skin had the pink bloom of youth and she knew that if he opened his eyes, they would be as blue as a summer’s sky.
Dare she waken him from his sleep? Dare she withdraw the stake and bring him back to life?

Beatrice’s shaking hand reached out. She faltered; unseemly beads of sweat trickling down her temples. But after three years of sleep would her lover even remember her?
A memory of his voice reverberated inside her head. ‘My dearest, the only time I feel truly alive is when you come to me, when…’
Her fingers clasped the firm stake, but it was dislodged, no longer impaling his heart. It was hot and fleshy…


Her screams echoed around the top floor, bouncing between walls.
Her eyes snapped wide open.
It was dark; she was on the floor, but where? Feeling some heavy cloth, she pulled it to one side. When had she slipped from wakefulness into dream? Was her morning chocolate tainted with tincture of laudanum? The new parlour maid had an untrustworthy look; she had heard of a servant who thus abused her mistress and then sifted through her jewels.
Or was it the gypsy who had come to the front door, if you please, asking for water? When she had gone to see what was keeping her butler, Beatrice keenly felt the power of the woman’s gaze when she had told her to ‘be off’. Stanley said there was a sick child at her side, but the policy was No Gypsies Served.

Lying there on the floor, drugged or cursed, could she now find the strength to pick up the key lying on the boards beside her, get to her feet and search for what was needed for the celebrations? She assumed that was her reason for being there, on her way to the attic.


She heard footsteps on the stairs. A moment later, the door flew open.
Jean Bland gasped when she saw her mistress lying on the floor. Her eyes widened and her expression became fearful as she took in her surroundings. The iron key lay alongside Beatrice. Jean shook her head in disbelief.

‘Marm? Shall I take that for you?’ she whispered. Kicking the cloth to one side, Jean reached forward and grabbed the key, then buried it deep within the folds of her skirt.
‘Let me help you up,’ she said, hoisting her mistress to her feet. ‘Cook has prepared menus for your approval, and the Squire has chosen a theme. He’s pacing the length of the Grand Hall. Come, this is no place to be.’ She shuddered. ‘Especially on the anniversary of that night…!’


Halloween Hysteria! is a collective story by 12 members:

Pauline Barclay, Bea Davenport, Suzy Turner, Chris Longmuir, Miriam Wakerly, Caroline James, Debbi Ingram, Valissa Enever, Joanna Lambert, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Fenella J Miller & Gilli Allan

Edited by Kit Domino who runs a professional editing service for Authors.

Please call back again tomorrow for part two….!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hug A Book with Chris Longmuir

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with CHRIS LONGMUIR

And

You could win an e-copy of
A Salt Splashed Cradle



Meet Chris


Chris Longmuir lives in Scotland and is an award winning novelist as well as an established writer of short stories and articles. She has published two novels in her Dundee Crime Series, with a third one due out at the end of 2012. Night Watcher, the first book in the series, won the Scottish Association of Writers' Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award.
Her crime novels are set in Dundee, Scotland, and have been described as scary, atmospheric, page turners. Chris also writes historical sagas, short stories and historical articles which have been published in America and Britain. She has recently published a historical family saga to Kindle. Writing is like an addiction to me, Chris says, I go into withdrawals without it. She is currently working on a further 2 crime novels.


Details on
A Salt Splashed Cradle


This historical saga is set in a Scottish fishing village in the 1830’s and reflects the living conditions and the morals of the ordinary fisher folk of that time.
The novel follows the relationships of Belle, her husband, Jimmie, her daughter Sarah, her mother-in-law, Annie, and the rest of the Watt family.
James and Annie Watt are a typical fisher family, and Annie is horrified when Jimmie, her eldest son, brings Belle to the village as his new bride. She makes her displeasure obvious to Belle who struggles to find acceptance in the village. Belle is engaged in a losing battle however, because the villagers regard her as an incomer.
Jimmie, anxious to buy his own boat, leaves the fishing village to sail with a whaling ship. The story follows him to the Arctic, and on a whale hunt, before he returns home again.
Meanwhile in his absence, Belle has fallen for the charms of Lachlan, the Laird’s son, and embarks on a tempestuous affair with him. When Jimmie returns she struggles with her feelings for him and for Lachlan.
By this time the women in the village are starting to regard Belle as a Jezebel who will tempt their men away. A mood of hysteria engulfs them and they turn against Belle, in an attempt to force her out of the village.
What will Belle do?
And will she survive?

Excerpt

The women waited thigh deep in water, as the fishing fleet sailed towards the village with the gulls screaming and circling round the boats. They were strong women, as tall and weather-beaten as the men who fished the seas, and as each boat arrived they grasped the prow pulling it ashore while the men attended to the task of securing the sails and oars.
James had been first back, and now he looked up from his task of unloading the fish from the boat that rested on the shingle where Annie had pulled and guided it. It would not be long before the cadgers arrived to haggle over the price of the fish. Their carts were probably already rumbling across the bridge from the town on the north shore of the river. Maybe he should not have sent Annie back to the house, for he was never able to get as good a price as she could. Still, family had to come first and Jimmie’s Belle was family now, as he had reminded Annie.
‘You’ll not be going to the town to sell fish the day,’ he’d said, his voice brooking no argument.
Annie had thrown down her creel in annoyance, but she had not argued.
‘Get Jeannie to put some of the fish in the creel for our own use, and bring it with you when you come. . . and mind and get a good price for the rest from the cadgers. They’d rob you as soon as look at you.’ With that parting remark Annie turned her back on James, and started to walk towards the stone house that had been home to them for the past twenty years.
James sighed as he resumed his task of unloading the fish. She was a good lass Annie. He was sure that once she’d got over her disappointment about Jimmie’s sudden marriage she would take to Belle, even if it was only for the sake of the bairn.

LINKS

Amazon Author Page:   Amazon.co.uk

Ebook A Salt Splashed Cradle:   Amazon.co.uk     Amazon.com
Note A Salt Splashed Cradle will soon be published as a paperback

Twitter:   @ChrisLongmuir

Author Website:   http://www.chrislongmuir.co.uk/




If you would like the chance to hug this fabulous e-book answer the following questions…….

How many reviews of A Salt Splashed Cradle are there on Amazon.co.uk, and how many on Amazon.com? How many are 5 star and how many 4 star?

Answers in the comments and good luck!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Something to Celebrate!

We are in a celebratory mood here at Famous Five Plus as we have something very exciting coming up next week; our 1st Anniversary!



Famous Five Plus started on that spooky day, 31st October 2011 with just 6 authors. Today we are 25 strong and truly international with authors from around the globe: Canada, UK, Australia, Italy, USA, Portugal and even the little island of Lanzarote in the Canary Isles! All authors in the FFP family are independent authors, that means they are either an Indie Author or with a small publishers, but all having to work on marketing their books.

In the twelve months since our web site sizzled out into the mega world wide web universe we have published 266 posts from FFP members; subjects ranging from publication day to dealing with bad reviews and everything else in between. And if that is not impressive the number of visits to our bubbly site is now nudging 60,000.

During the last year we have attracted three sponsors to our web site: Avalon Graphics, Strictly Business Magazine and Volkan-Watches


To celebrate our First Anniversary we are going to do it the way we do everything and that is as a team. Together we have written a spooky, but fun story to share with all our visitors, titled: Halloween Hysteria! It will appear on our web site in three parts, the first part on Monday 29th October with the finale on Wednesday 31st October. Be prepared …

Halloween Hysteria! is a collective effort by 12 members:

Pauline Barclay, Bea Davenport, Suzy Turner, Chris Longmuir, Miriam Wakerly, Caroline James, Debbi Ingram, Valissa Enever, Joanna Lambert, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Fenella J Miller & Gilli Allan

Edited by Kit Domino who runs a professional editing service for Authors.


A special thank you to everyone who has visited our web site, supported our Group, kept tabs on what we are doing and buying and reading Famous Five Plus member’s books.

Please keep returning, we have so much more to share……!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

"I Made It up Honest!" says Bea Davenport


“So you recognise yourself in my book, but I made it all up, it’s not really you,’ cries Bea Davenport as she talks about the other side of writing what you know!
There’s one problem with the age-old advice about writing ‘what you know.’ It’s that everyone also assumes, even in fiction, that you’re writing about who you know.
I worked for many years as a journalist, on newspapers and also for the regional BBC in the north of England. So in the crime/suspense novel In Too Deep, some central characters are reporters and I’ve drawn upon my own background for an authentic portrayal of how the news industry works.
But many friends who read drafts couldn’t seem to grasp that it was, nevertheless, a work of fiction. “Which character are you?” one reader asked. She looked baffled when I said I wasn’t any of them and that I’d made the characters up. Other readers also asked me if certain characters were people we knew. Again, when I insisted that these characters were entirely imaginary, their disappointment (and disbelief) was obvious.
I think perhaps the temptation to look for ourselves or our friends in a novel is very strong – we want them to be there, because that makes the reader a bigger part of the story. No wonder works of fiction always include that disclaimer about ‘any resemblance to persons alive or dead is purely coincidental’. It must have kept hundreds of authors out of the libel courts.
What I will forgive more readily is a reader who thinks they have guessed where the novel is set. Although the little town of Dowerby is fictional, it was heavily based on a real place. Alnwick, the market town where I had an office for several years as the BBC’s Northumberland reporter, was uppermost in my mind when I created the setting for the novel.
Until the mid-2000s, Alnwick genuinely did have an annual fair in which women (only) were put on a makeshift ducking stool and plunged into a tank of water. And the general geography of Dowerby is also loosely based on Alnwick’s cobbles, its market square and its surrounding countryside.  I’ve also included some elements from other little towns around the north-east, so in the end Dowerby is a collage of a setting, made up of many parts. If any readers are sure they recognise parts of it, then they’re probably right, but they won’t find one place with all of Dowerby in it.
I really hope that readers will find the people and the setting entirely believable. But just remember – that doesn’t mean they’re real!
Find out more about Bea by visiting our Author Page

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

It Doesn’t Have to be Pretty by Gilli Allan


Gilli Allan evokes a rich tapestry of scenes as she talks about how her commuting days and her home today inspires a sense of place in her novels.
Evoking a sense of place in a novel can be just as important as creating the characters. Or perhaps I should rephrase that.  When I am writing a novel, first creating the landscape in which I set my characters  ̶  wound up and ready to enact the unfolding drama  ̶  is crucial to me.  I don’t go as far as drawing a map, as I know some authors do, but I have to be able to see the world I have created in my imagination, to know whether my heroine turns right or left when she leaves her house to go to the nursery or the farm. I have to be able to see the view through her eyes as she looks out of the window.
I know I am lucky.  I live in a beautiful part of the UK.  We live on the side of a valley in the Cotswold Hills.  We regularly have cattle in the field directly behind our garden, and sometimes we see deer and rabbits.  Buzzards glide overhead, bullfinches, nuthatches and goldfinches are amongst the frequent visitors to the bird table. Woods clad the hills above us, so I have plenty to draw on when I start to think about a new book. But inspiration can come from anywhere. Not all books are set in the countryside. An urban setting can be just as important an element in the telling of a story. A landscape of concrete and tarmac - town-centres teeming with shoppers, traffic-clogged streets, and ugly high-rise blocks of flats - can have as important a role in the story as a picturesque landscape, and just as much impact on the lives of the characters.
I have an abiding memory of commuting from London to Orpington in Kent.  I’d left art school but was still living at home, and was working in a department store in the West End.  The train would travel through the London suburbs before passing through London Bridge, Waterloo and arriving at Charing Cross.  The section of railway line that went through London Bridge was elevated. It passed through on a level with the top floors and rooftops of the blackened buildings that crowded huggermugger around the track. 
Commmuting is rarely fun, but it’s usually possible to find something to engage the brain.   At this point of the journey the train would, as often as not, come to a halt and be held there stationary for minutes at a time waiting for the signal. From the carriage window I looked out on the flat roofs of the London Bridge area of the capital. The distance from train to roof looked bridgeable, as if you could open the train door and jump easily across. Long before ‘roof jumping’ became an urban sport I could imagine scenarios where someone, needing to escape from the train, would leap onto one of those roofs. And I could imagine an extended rooftop chase across them, the pursued and the pursuers climbing up, jumping down, and leaping across the crevasse, from one building to another.
Crossing the river, with the view to Westminster, was always a small blessing in this daily grind. It was ever changing in the different light. One evening I particularly remember a sunset. It wasn’t one of those spectacular sunsets where the whole sky turns salmon pink.  It was more subtle, with inky cloud striped across a deep crimson sun, against a background sky that had taken on a pearly green hue.  At the time I thought I was an artist.  I should have been thinking about the colours I would choose, the technique I would employ, to paint this sunset. But no. I still recall trying to find the words and phrases to describe it perfectly.
Maybe I should have realised then and there that I was really a writer.
Find out more about Gilli by visiting our Author, Books & Reviews Pages

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Slipping Through The Net by Kathryn Brown


Kathryn Brown talks about slipping through the net as she continues the edits on her latest book, Nightingale Woods.

Having now done two edits of my new book, Nightingale Woods, I’m going to run through it once again and do a thorough proof-read. It won’t be the last edit or proof-read by a long shot, but there comes a time when we just change words, sentences and context for the sake of it. I call it ‘tinkering’, and if one tinkers too much, one finds their manuscript has no bearing on the original idea. I’ve been reading a large number of books over the last few months, mainly of the romantic comedy genre, some chick-lit, mostly of the same style in which I’m trying to find myself, and I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.

When we’re writing it’s easy to let things slip through the net; things like, ‘god’ rather than ‘God’, and ‘auntie’ rather than ‘Auntie’. You may think these are quite trivial aspects to writing a book but actually they matter, hugely. A manuscript, if submitted, needs to be completely polished. If we let even the smallest errors, typing or grammatical slip through the net, then we are jeopardizing our chances of being taken seriously. I’m a stickler for typos and I sit with the dictionary and thesaurus by my desk at all times. I also make use of the thesaurus and spell checker in Word, but even the most obsessed writer can make mistakes.

Throughout my current work-in-progress, I used ‘god’ and have since changed it to ‘God’ after asking for advice. I also used ‘auntie’ and again have changed this to ‘Auntie’, this time after noticing it was spelt with a capital A in a book I’m currently reading. I’m sure there will be many more errors that have slipped through the net, but I hope to have a few people proof-read my book to make absolutely sure that I have done just about everything possible before I make the decision of which publishing route I take. Self-published authors are wholly responsible for their own work and if a reader picks up on an error, they will immediately blame the author. I want my new book to be scrutinised, enjoyed and memorable to whoever reads it so those proof-reads will be paramount. There’s nothing worse than a badly-written book littered with mistakes that take away the enjoyment of the story itself.

You can find out more about Kathryn by visiting our Author, Books, Trailer & Review Pages

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fact or Fiction asks Joanna Lambert


Fact or fiction? Writing creeps across these invisible lines blurring what is fact or fiction as Joanna Lambert explains.
When I started writing the first book of my trilogy – When Tomorrow Comes – one of the central characters was the matriarch of the family.  In the early days she was called Catherine Wentworth, whom everyone called Cayte.  After a while I decided to change the surname to Kendrick and felt Catherine should go too.  So she became Laura.  I chose this name I guess partly because I liked it and it was my grandmother’s name, and of course those who knew me automatically assumed that I had modelled her on my wonderful maternal grandmother.  But they were wrong.
Laura Kendrick was modelled on a lady called Marjorie Welsh.  Colonel and Mrs Welsh and their two adult children moved into the old manor house in our village when I was about eight years old.  Mrs Welsh had been a debutante at the time when debs were presented at court.  She was educated, well-travelled and brought a breath of fresh air to the village.  At a time when foreign travel was only for the very rich, she broadened horizons by setting up evenings in the old school room, inviting the village and showing slides from their travels to such exotic places as India and China.  She also took over the Sunday School, showing her theatrical skills with sometimes quite dramatic role play of the different biblical characters.
Years later, on a visit to my grandmother I was told Mrs Welsh knew I was coming and would love me to drop in and see her.  I arrived at the manor to find the whole family sitting around the huge kitchen table and busily involved in the preparation of vegetables. ‘We’ve people coming to dinner.’ Mrs Welsh told me as she cheerfully peeled potatoes. ‘I’ve given cook the night off and we’re going to do everything ourselves.’ They all seemed quite happy with this, in fact, I think they thought it was quite fun.
One thing that shone through clearly was Marjorie Welsh’s regard for her village neighbours.  On one very snowy winter’s day she was spotted wheeling a barrow full of logs through the village.  Wrapped up against the elements and wearing wellingtons, she was heading for one of the cottages where a young couple lived.  The wife was heavily pregnant and Marjorie was concerned (as the village had been cut off due to heavy snow coming off Salisbury Plain) that they had enough fuel to keep them warm.
Find out more about Joanna by visiting our Author, Book, Trailer & Review Pages

Saturday, 20 October 2012

It's HUG A BOOK with Kit Domino


Hug A Book is sponsored by


It's HUG A BOOK and this weekend it's with Kit Domino

 And
you could win an e-copy of
Every Step of the Way



First let's meet Kit


Kit Domino grew up in London during the 1950s before escaping to the west of England during the mid 1970s where she still resides. She found minor success with several pieces of poetry before embarking on novel writing. With her third novel, Every Step of the Way, she was shortlisted for the 2004 Harry Bowling Prize which was finally published as an ebook on Kindle by ThornBerry Publishing earlier this year. As well as writing, Kit is also an international acrylic artist. Visit her website to find out more: http://www.kit-domino.com/


Details on
Every Step of the Way


Every Step of the Way is a story of the 1950s. Part fiction, part factual – it’s a love story as well as tale of resilience and determination in the face of adversity following one of the worst environmental disasters London has every endured. 


Excerpt
“You know, I think perhaps this smog’s finally lifting. You couldn’t see to the end of the garden path earlier.” She could just make out a hearse pulling up outside number twenty-seven. “Something’s happened across the road, at the Reades.”
No one seemed to be listening to her. Silently, Beth continued watching in saddened concern as Jimmy and Jack, the Reades’ two strapping sons, clumsily carried a coffin inside the house. There was no sign of Mr Reade or his nice wife. She wondered which one of them had died.
She tidied the curtain. “I’ll go up and see if Gran’s all right. Do you want me to dust upstairs, Mum?”
“Please, pet.”
“Whilst you’re at it, you can fill my cup up again. And your mother’s. Make yourself bloody useful for a change,” Alfie ordered, his head still engrossed in his four-day-old newspaper.
Whatever was he going to read when the paper was needed to light the fire in the morning, heaven only knew, Beth thought, snatching the cup from his proffered hand and flouncing out of the room, piqued by his remark.
“Do you have to keep on at the girl, Alf?” she heard her mother say. “The poor kid’s doing the best she can. For goodness sake, leave her alone.”
The newspaper rattled.
“Got any arsenic, Mum? We’re fresh out of sugar,” Beth called from the kitchen.
“Yes. In the tin under the sink. Put three spoonfuls in your father’s tea; give us all some peace.”

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 In what year did the great Killer Smog descend over London?





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