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Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year & What A Year!

Happy New Year from everyone at Famous Five Plus, we hope it will be a year filled with happiness and success.


At Famous Five Plus we have had an amazing year with many new authors joining us to share their writing journey, their highs and lows and their wonderful publications.

This year we have welcomed more book reviewers who have read our books and openly talked about them to the widest audience.

It has also been a great year in that we have attracted three superb sponsors who have helped promote not only the Group but individual authors.

It is not only a time to reflect, but a time to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who visited our web site, read our books, championed our authors and helped to make Famous Five Plus a Group that is internationally known and a place where the best Indie Authors can be found.

Happy New Year!


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Meet Gilli Allan


Meet Gilli Allan author of two best sellers, Torn and Life Class.


I went to art school and originally worked as an illustrator in advertising. I began writing when my son was small. I write contemporary romantic fiction with an edge. I had two novels published almost immediately. Just Before Dawn and Desires & Dreams. But my books did not receive the distribution, publicity and marketing necessary to make any impact. I never saw either in a bookshop apart from my local store whom I'd browbeaten to stock a few. My publisher went bust.

Gloucestershire. I go to an art class once a week. I used to go to a life class to draw and paint the naked figure. For the past year I have been doing a water-colour class instead. I wouldn't be able to live the life I do without the support (emotional and financial) of my husband. We have a clever son, who is now married and is doing a Phd.


Torn is available in & paperback Kindle from all Amazon stores


Life Class is available in Kindle from all Amazon stores
Find out more about Gilli by visiting our Books & Review Pages

Friday, 28 December 2012

Inspiration. A Beautiful Trailer by Pauline Barclay


Author of three novels, Pauline Barclay shares her latest video, Inspiration.

"It's almost the end of another year and rather than reflect on the highs and lows I decided to produce a video, one that creates reflection whilst at the same time promoting energy and inspiration to do the things that make our lives more complete."



You can learn more about Pauline by visiting our Books, Author, Trailer and Review Pages

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw Reviewed


Chris Longmuir reviews, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw by Suzy Turner
 
 
I was slightly out of my comfort zone with this book, as my usual reading diet is crime, suspense, and action. However, I do like a good ghost story as well which was why I was drawn to it.

Emma and Lana are two adopted sisters and as the story evolves it becomes obvious they have special powers. The first section of the book where they discover a mysterious boy washed up by the sea, and then the death by drowning of the elderly Josiah Grimshaw was full of suspense and really kept me guessing, which is what I like in a book.

Lana is afraid of heights, so when she feels impelled to climb to the pinnacle of Carlton Point, not only was she terrified. I was too. And then when she stood on the edge of the sheer drop my heart was in my mouth, and here is how it felt for Lana – She could feel her heart beating, feel it thudding in her chest. She couldn’t open her mouth; it was too dry. All she wanted to do was scream but she couldn’t even do that . . . A sudden massive gust of wind took her feet from beneath her and she was forcefully pushed from the top of Carlton Point, falling silently and peacefully to the rocky hills below. End of chapter. Now that really is strong writing and a terrific cliff hanger.

There is a similar scene with Emma who is afraid of water. She is on a ferry when a voice entered her head and told her to jump . . . Her face was as white as a sheet, but her body didn’t seem to care as she thre herself from the boat into the cold waters of the Thames estuary.

The mystery deepens when the girls travel to London for a work placement, but this is no ordinary work placement. By this time the girls have developed their special powers and they join a group of young people who also have special powers. This was the section where I felt most out of my comfort zone, because there were descriptions of each person’s powers. Although this section was intriguing I found it lacked the pace of the previous section, but that is because I like suspence and action, and I have less patience for the building of fantasy worlds. I have a feeling that this will be the section that will appeal most to fantasy lovers.

The pace picked up again by the end of the book as Emma and Lana seek to free Josiah Grimwood and allow him to move on. The explanation of why he was held in limbo was intriguing and in line with the fantasy element of the story.

In conclusion I really liked the characters of Emma and Lana, and shared their fears and joys, which is what good charaterisation is all about. I also found lots to interest me in this story, and I loved the parts which were full of suspense and action. I did feel it lagged a bit in the middle, however dedicated readers of fantasy will probably not agree with me over this. Overall it was an enjoyable read.

Now watch the Video...


Find out more about Suzy by visiting our Books, Author and Trailer Pages

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas to You

Merry Christmas to you.
Have a wonderful time with your family and friends and thank you for all your amazing support.


Friday, 21 December 2012

Cathy Speight Talks about Reviewing


Today Cathy Speight one of the valued reviewers at Famous Five Plus talks about the importance of being a reviewer.

Some of you know me as one of the FFP Facebook group members, but for those of you who don’t, I won’t bore you with a long and dreary bio. Just so that you know a little about me, my name is Cathy Speight, I live in Bristol, UK, am married, have twin daughters, and three (nearly four) grandchildren.  I opted for retirement four years ago when the company I worked for relocated to London and then last year, I did two things:  I signed up to Facebook (I’m a late developer), and I bought myself a Kindle.  Those two things are actually how I find myself here, part of Pauline’s wonderful author groups.

The Kindle revolutionised my reading.  After only one ebook, I was well and truly hooked, and I joined a number of Facebook book groups where I met a hitherto unknown (to me) group of people:  indie authors.  I discovered an Aladdin’s Cave of indie books, got chatting to lots of authors and—long story short—I found myself creating my own review blog.  For me, clicking the last page of the book wasn’t quite The End. Complete closure was writing about what I thought of the book.  And lo, Cath ‘n’ Kindle Book Reviews was born—an album or an anthology of all my Kindle books.

Having reviewed for a couple of book-reviewing sites, I picked up some very useful hints about writing reviews, and together with what I personally like to see, I’d like to share those elements I believe make a good review and offer some ‘tips and wrinkles’ (where did that expression come from?) about becoming a reviewer:

Read the book from beginning to end (not as obvious as it sounds!) and carefully. (I have been known to read a page three times if I thought I hadn’t read every word).

Were the characters well-conceived, varied enough, did you like the heros/heroines?

The plot—was it well-structured? Were there any loose threads?

Did you like the author’s style—was it suited to the genre?

The pace of the story—too fast, too slow?

Did it evoke any emotions? Did you cry or laugh?

Was the dialogue natural?

Was it well edited?

Would you recommend the book?

Would you read another book by the author?

A detailed synopsis of the story isn’t too important as there is always one at the point of purchase—but of course, it’s difficult to talk about the book without reference to the story, so keep it short with no spoilers—please, no  spoilers.

Try and be sensible about the length of your review—too short, and there are too many unanswered questions for the potential reader: ‘this was a good book, couldn’t put it down, I could relate to the heroine, and loved the ending’ isn’t going to influence a reader very much.  It’s too impersonal and is a rather one-for-all review.  By the same token, if your review is too long, you will lose a reader’s interest—not just in the review, but maybe even in the book. I’m not suggesting, however, that a three-paragraph, perfectly constructed eloquent review is de rigueur.  On the contrary, a short, even very short, one can be an author’s most treasured review if it’s pertinent and sincere.

Most importantly, if you expect a well-edited, well-presented book from an author, I feel the very least you can do is give the same in return, so there should be no typos, spelling mistakes, etc.


Finally:

What didn’t you like and why?  This is the most ‘delicate’ part of reviewing. Don’t be afraid to say if you didn’t like a book—but be constructive, try to be helpful, and above all, don’t be nasty or abusive.  Not liking the book because you didn’t like the subject matter is, well, a bit of a non-starter.  Don’t read a book in a genre you know you don’t like or deals with a subject in which you have no interest or would prefer not to read about;  you just won’t be able to give an objective review.

Try to take a bigger-picture view.  Not long ago, I posted a review on Amazon of what I thought was an excellent book. I discovered nearly 60 reviews, most of them good. I don’t often read reviews after I’ve read a book, but I was intrigued (and surprised) by the one- and two-star reviews. I thought it was a very good book, how could it possibly be worth only one or two stars? Had these readers put their reviews on the wrong page? Of course, we all have different tastes, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but when I looked at these reviews more closely I thought they were a tad harsh.

The review was for a detective thriller. Amongst others, there were comments about certain issues that would never have happened in real life. Well, no, quite possibly that was true, but this is fiction. Isn’t that part of why we read? To escape from an ordinary real life? Isn’t that true of all entertainment, films, and drama shows? How many times have you said to yourself, yeah, like that really happens. But it’s drama, so we cut a little slack. Because it’s all good fun. Poetic licence is allowed.

Every book that lands in my lap for review is to me an extraordinary achievement by another human being and one I could never accomplish.

So before slapping one star on a book you didn’t like, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and reflect how that book got to be on your Kindle/ereader. It didn’t just happen. It may have taken years of hard work and dedication, first by the author and then a team of people doing their best, both parties keen to continue to improve in their respective crafts.  A little encouragement is one of the things that helps this process along.

A very handy tip for authors when they self-edit, is to step back from their potential bestselling masterpiece for a few weeks, even months, before rereading it.  A little break before writing a review is something I also advise.  Not weeks, though:  if you’re anything like me, I’ve forgotten characters’ names almost as soon as I’ve dived into the next book.  But after a few days, it’s surprising how differently you feel about a book.  I have sometimes upgraded from a two-star rating to a four-star rating after having had a few days to ‘digest’.

Judging by the number of books I have waiting to be read and reviewed, it would appear that there can never be enough reviewers!  Your to-be-reviewed list will grow rapidly to almost daunting proportions. Authors—especially indie authors—surf the ‘net searching for book reviewers and their blogs, and if their searches find you, you’ll be overwhelmed by requests.  Keeping to the genres you like (but don’t be afraid to try one you think you might) will keep your review list to a manageable level (says she whose TBR is quite off the radar).

Finally and most importantly, enjoy yourself: have fun writing your reviews, start a review blog, and share them!

Book Junkies Group (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/groups/ginniefrancesreadingroup/

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Merry Christmas to our Amazing Sponsors

Wishing our sponsors a very merry Christmas.
Thank you for all your support and kindness throughout the year. Your generosity has made a difference to helping promote our wonderful Group.

Thank you!







Cathy Helms, Avalon Graphics
Cathy has designed and produced our amazing Author Showcase Trailer and every month updates it with all the changes.

I'm Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics writing to you from North Carolina, USA. I am a freelance graphic designer who specializes in creating  jacket covers and producing book trailers.
I am also a passionate digital photographer and often use my own photography in my design creations.
I offer an array of design services and have geared Avalon Graphics to suit the self-published and small businesses in the market in need of quality design while on a tight budget. I provide full book jacket layouts, marketing materials such as flyers, post cards, bookmarks, web graphics, book trailers for YouTube and even portfolio websites for my clients.
Special Pricing for Famous Five Plus Members!!  I am thrilled to offer discounted rates on book covers and book trailers to any member who contracts Avalon Graphics for creative services.
Avalon Graphics
My music composer, Bronwen Harrison's home page: http://www.luminamusic.co.uk/broni.html

Paul & Debbie from Strictly Business Magazine sponsors our Book in the Spotlight Page and provides every month one full page showcasing Famous Five Plus Authors in their superb monthly magazine.

Strictly Business is a on-line magazine based on the Norfolk Coast...
Their aim to help promote Small Businesses and Local Charities in Norfolk and Suffolk... And from February, Strictly Business will be supporting Famous Five Plus with a page showcasing a selection of books from Famous Five Plus Authors.
The Magazine is designed and produced by PC Graphics... and you can follow them on twitter https://twitter.com/#!/strictlymag
   
Please contact Debbie if you would like to know more or for details of the cost for a page.



Volkan-Watches sponsors our Books Page and our special weekend feature Hug A Book where each week one e-book is up for grabs!
We believe that in order to create something extraordinary it demands the highest quality and unique design. Our inspiration has always been to combine extreme sports with extreme elements that surround us every day; earth, wind, fire and water.

Welcome to Volkan-Watches.

This ambition has culminated in what is now Volkan: Extreme watches to meet extreme demands with extreme style.

Find our more about our sponsor, Volkan-Watches at http://www.volkan-watches.com/



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Suzy Turner & Daisy Madigans's Paradise


Suzy Turner talks about her latest novella, Daisy Madigan's Paradise.
A Morgan Sisters novella


When tragedy falls upon 15 year old Daisy Madigan, she escapes to the only place she feels safe, the cemetery of Abney Park. There, in the company of the dearly departed, she realizes she is changing, growing stronger and faster by the day. But in the darkness lurks a terror even she can't imagine facing.


Excerpt
She could feel it in the air, the sensation that she wasn't alone in the cemetery. And it wasn't the ghosts or the animals in the undergrowth. This was different. Her senses on full alert, Daisy was cautious to make little noise as she walked slowly and carefully through the gravestones, past the sleeping lion and beyond the numerous headless statues of angels that were scattered among the trees.
When she heard a howl, she stopped dead in her tracks and listened intently, her eyes skimming the area all around. The howl was followed by laughter, and not the fun kind. She knew immediately that she was dealing with a group. Her first instinct was to run but, not knowing which direction they were coming from, she climbed the nearest tree. Seconds later, she sat on a heavy branch, barely breathing. She'd never even realised she was capable of climbing trees and to do so at such speed shocked her. But she didn't have time to think about that, she knew those people in the park were bad news and she didn't want them to catch her.
Silently waiting, she barely took a breath as she watched the group grow nearer.
There were four men, three women and two incredibly large dogs. As they approached, Daisy bit her lip. They weren't dogs. They were wolves and they were on to her scent, sniffing all around the area. Fortunately, they seemed to lose interest and neither of them looked upwards.

Daisy Madigan's Paradise is a FREE Morgan Sisters novella. The first full length novel in the series is entitled The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw and is available for just $2.99. 

Watch the Trailer...




Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Chilling Review of Night Watcher by JB Johnston


  "If you want a book to take you on a roller coaster of a ride and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end then this is the book for you," JB Johnston reviews Night Watcher by Chris Longmuir
Nicole is not liked. No surprise as she is not a nice person. In fact, it could be said that she is hated. Her work colleagues despise her, her husband treats her like she is worthless and she does not have one person she could call a true friend. That is, until she meets Julie. However, Julie is not all she seems and Nicole mistakenly places her trust in Julie when she fears she is being stalked. Julie it seems has her own agenda to make Nicole’s life a misery and is fuelled by revenge. Julie believes that Nicole is responsible for the death of her husband and will stop at nothing to ruin Nicole’s life. However, Julie herself soon gets caught up in events that spiral out of control, putting her in danger also.
Despite the fact the no-one really believes that Nicole is being stalked, she is in more danger than she or even the police realises. Someone is waiting and watching in the dark with a purpose and a ‘calling.’ He is hell-bent on completing his ‘mission’ and has Nicole firmly set in his targets. But, just who is he? Is it someone Nicole knows? It seems that all the characters, even those who seem innocent, have their own agendas. Who will stop at nothing to gain the advantage over Nicole in work, love and life itself!
Chris Longmuir creates a very atmospheric story in this book and provides us with some insight into the mind of the ‘Night Watcher’ which serves its purpose – to make the reader look over their shoulder every now and again just to make sure they are alone! I could not fault this book at all except to say that made me sit open mouthed at the end and I looked like an idiot! The book is superbly written and Chris Longmuir is extremely talented, drawing the reader deeply into the story and guessing right to the end.  This is a psychological thriller with so many twists and turns it takes your breath away.
 I so look forward to reading more by Chris Longmuir. If you want a book to take you on a roller coaster of a ride and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end then this is the book for you. All thriller lovers and amateur detectives will consume this book with gusto. I simply could not put it down. It’s not hard to see why Chris Longmuir is a prize winning author.
Now watch the video....!


Monday, 17 December 2012

Welcome Lizzie Lamb to Famous Five Plus


We are delighted to welcome to Famous Five Plus, Lizzie Lamb.

 
With Scottish, Irish, and Brazilian blood in her veins, it’s hardly surprising Lizzie Lamb is a writer. She even wrote extra scenes for the films she watched as a child: The Parent Trap, Pollyanna etc. Until she was drummed out of the playground for keeping all the good lines for herself. Luckily, she saves them for her readers these days. A huge fan of Jilly Cooper, Lizzie had some short stories published and even found herself an agent - but, her writing went on hold while she pursued a successful teaching career, finishing up as a Deputy Head teacher of a large primary school in Leicestershire. Back to being a novelist, her début novel Tall, Dark and Kilted – themed Notting Hill meets Monarch of the Glen – echoes her love of her homeland in every page, not to mention heroes in kilts. She is currently writing her second novel: Boot Camp Bride about a rookie journalist sent undercover into a boot camp for brides in order to investigate a drugs dealing/money laundering trail that reaches all the way from Columbia to Norfolk. At her side is her nemesis and infuriating fellow journo Raffa Ffinch. Will she get her scoop? Can romance flourish in the Norfolk marshes? Lizzie has the plots and outlines for several more romantically themed novels which she likes to describe as 'humorously ever after.' 

Lizzie has also formed an indie publishing collaborative with three other members of the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers Scheme. Calling themselves the New Romantics 4, they strongly advocate ‘sisters doing it for themselves’ and to that end have self-published on Kindle and Create Space and held Red Carpet Events to showcase their talents. Lizzie firmly believes that which is written and has been edited and revised, should have the opportunity to be read.



Tall Dark and Kilted…..

Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it the  dream of being her own boss. She’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, but there's a catch. The centre lies five hundred miles north in Wester Ross, Scotland.
 Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an up close and personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate - starting with Fliss. Facing the dole queue once more Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out his dysfunctional family. 
 Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves? Read Tall, Dark and Kilted to find out . . .

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Special HUG A BOOK with Serena Fairfax


Hug A Book is sponsored by


It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Serena Fairfax

And


Where The Bulbul Sings
is available as a freebie on Kindle for 1 day only
 15.12.2012



Meet Serena



I spent my childhood in India, qualified as a Lawyer in England and joined a large London law firm.

My first romantic novel STRANGE INHERITANCE (published by Robert Hale Ltd in 1990) went into UK and USA large print editions in 2004 (published by BBC Audio Books Ltd and Thorndike Press) and is a Kindle  and Smashwords e-book 2011. The next romantic novel was PAINT ME A DREAM (published by Robert Hale Ltd in 1991) which went into UK and USA large print editions in 2004 (published by BBC Audio Books Ltd and Thorndike Press) and is also a Kindle and Smashwords e-book 2011.

Fast forward to a sabbatical from the day job when  I traded in bricks and mortar for a houseboat and  embarked on WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS a time-zone saga set in India spanning the last days of the Raj to the present day. This emerged in 2011 as a Kindle e-book, Smashwords e-book and a printed book.   IN THE PINK (Kindle and Smashwords e-book 2011) is a departure in style. GOLDEN GROVE and WILFUL FATE are both romantic novels and are Smashwords and Kindle e-books.

I'm a member of the Romantic Novelists Association. It’s a wonderfully supportive organisation.

I live in London and rural Kent (Charles Dickens said: Kent, sir. Everybody knows Kent. Apples, cherries, hops and women) with my golden retriever, Inspector Morse who can’t wait to unleash his own Facebook page.


Details of
Where The Bulbul Sings



A sprawling saga spanning the last heady days of the Raj to present day India with a romance theme. Three very different  women - Anglo-Indian (mixed heritage), German and English  whose lives entwine. An American Baptist missionary couple whose unknowing links to one of the women resonate to the present day. The glamour of the Maharajahs; the cutting edge of the modern  city of Delhi and a pine-scented hill station in the Himalayas; the perils of personal re-invention; the  poignant quest for roots.
Amazon link     ASIN: B0093MHTNM


Available for Kindle,



Excerpt
Chapter 1

 ‘A ripened peach and just seventeen, man. She’ll be heartbreaker and trouble stirrer, yawl see,’ the railwayman muttered to a workmate their gaze locked on Hermie Blake as she propped up her black Raleigh bicycle against a betel-stained wall of Ajeemkot’s two-storied mustard and red brick station building and un-looped a basket from the handlebars. Then, tucking her broad brimmed khaki solar topi under one arm, she hurried, her bronze tumble of hair lit by sunlight, up the dusty, stone steps to the arched entrance. After a humid night that promised the monsoon, the temperature had climbed. That June day in 1939 was cloudless with a slight heat haze and above the raucous bustle of the station the chimes of the town’s Victoria Jubilee Memorial clock danced across on a spice-spiked breeze.

Eight o'clock! Hermie – christened but seldom called Hermione - glanced across for confirmation to the station clock - accurate to a second - courtesy of its German manufacturer, and gave a gusty sigh. She wiped her damp forehead, grimly conscious that she was late again for work and mentally hurled invective at Bishu, their absent chokra.
' Girlee! Wait. That jungly boy has hopped to the bazaar forgetting Pa’s tiffin as usual.' Hermie’s mother, Noreen, had buttonholed her as she was about to leave home. 'And mind, yawl know Pa’s a picky eater. So drop this in for him on your way.'

Noreen was pin thin, her frame that of a distant forebear – an English infantryman in the pay of the East India Company, once a mighty London based commercial venture with its own private army. Three hundred and fifty years ago in a battle waged in Bengal mangrove swamps against a local ruler, he’d survived to marry his Indian village sweetheart and stayed on, never to return to the green meadows of home. To cement allegiance the Company tossed a gold mohur coin to every India born child of an Indian mother and European father and from such beginnings the hybrid Anglo-Indian Community evolved. This was the Community to which the Blakes belonged, its distinct genetic footprints leading back to European ancestors in the male line of descent who’d flocked to India to seek fame and fortune – and found love.


Serena’s Links

Twitter: @sefairfax


If you missed downloading a free copy on 15th December, then you could be the lucky winner to win a Kindle copy

Question: What sort of bike does Hermie ride?

Answers in the Comments
Good Luck!




Enjoy this 5 star read


Friday, 14 December 2012

The Magic of a Regency Christmas by Fenella J Miller



Fenella J Miller shares the magic of A Regency Christmas

Jane Austen has several references to Christmas celebrations. Here is a quote from Persuasion:

"On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high-revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard, in spite of all the noise of the others."


The holiday season began on December 21st and ran until 12th night, January 6th :
 (Imagine having to spend so long with your families and friends nowadays. I'm sure only in the wealthier households would Christmas celebrated so thoroughly.)

December 21st is the winter solstice: on this day in the Regency a Yule log was brought in and then burned throughout the holiday. Servants would deck the Halls with boughs of holly (where have I heard that before?) and other greenery; some households considered it unlucky to have any greenery in the house before Christmas Eve. There was of course no Christmas tree as they didn't become fashionable until the 1850s.


Christmas Eve:
Friends and family would meet at the appointed house and settled in to enjoy themselves. Possibly guess would be invited to dinner and there might be dancing in games afterwards.

Christmas Day:
Everyone would have attended church in the morning and put a little extra in the poor box for the next day. Later the Regency well they would enjoy a turkey dinner (Christmas goose was a later tradition). Families tended to stay together on Christmas Day there would not been a large party after dinner.
(Imagine a Christmas Day with no television or Queen’s speech!)

Boxing Day:
Boxes (this is where the name comes from) of food and clothing were given out the tenants and it was also a tradition to give the servants a holiday bonus content of the church. Box would be distributed to the needy. There might be a foxhunt from somewhere in the neighbourhood.

December 27th to 30th :
there would have been parted and gatherings at home or nearby houses every night. Gentlemen would dance all night and then get up early to enjoy sporting activities but the ladies can have their beauty sleep and then spend the afternoon touring the countryside in an open carriage.

New Year's Eve:
A Regency family would see in the New Year at midnight with drink and song. The racier couples might find themselves embracing under the mistletoe.


January 2nd  - 5th:
yet more social gatherings and family activities. If it was cold enough there might be sledging ice skating during the day and balls and parties in the evening.
January 6th , Twelfth night:
this was the traditional day exchanging gifts, gifts could be given at any time throughout the holiday season not even over several days there might be a large ball somewhere in the neighbourhood twitched the children of the house would be invited along with the grown-ups.

January 7th :
The decorations would be taken down (it is still considered unlucky to leave them up any longer) and your guests and family will return to their own home.


Find out more about Fenella by visiting our Author, Books & Review Pages

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Twisted Christmas Fairy Tale by Francine Howarth

A delightful festive tale for Christmas from the wonderfully talented, Francine Howarth




The ball is in full swing the clock nearing first strike of midnight.
Starring Adverbia & Adjectivia as the ugly sisters.


--------------------


    ‘OMG, who is that?’ croaked Adverbia, a sugared plum immediately thrust to mouth in haste to satisfy a gross appetite.
    ‘Who, what, where?’ screamed short-sighted Adjectivia, agitated in extreme because she always refused to be seen in public wearing spectacles.
    Adverbia was near to choking, the sugared plum stuck solidly in throat, her reply merely garbled. ‘O ‘er tair.’
    Adjectivia noticed Adverbia's distress and gave a resounding slap to her back.
    The sugared plum gunned out of Adverbia's mouth and zoomed across the ballroom. Unfortunately, it ended up wedged in the dowager duchess’ wig, which caused much tittering from Adjectivia.
    The dowager duchess glanced about to ascertain who or what had struck her wig a broadside. As she readjusted her lopsided hairpiece her fingers made contact with the now squidgy sugared plum, and eyes narrowed she assessed its velocity on impact and trajectory path.
    Her eyes soon settled on Adverbia; yet another sugared plum gripped between fingers.
    But so engrossed in watching the beautiful young lady dancing with Prince Charming, Adverbia failed to notice the dowager duchess looking her way, and said, ‘There, there, dancing with Prince Charming,' she screamed, 'can you not see her? Oh Adj do put your specs on.'
    Reluctanly Adjectivia raised her specs to eyes. ‘I see, I see,’ she rallied, brow furrowed teeth bared. ‘Grrrrr, spit, damn and blast the strumpet. Who is she?’
    ‘If I knew why would I be asking you?’ snarled Adverbia, sucking loudly on the second sugared plum.
    ‘I cannot imagine your asking me, at all,‘ replied Adjectivia, fanning her face with a feather-plumed fan. ‘Uh oh, the dowager duchess is coming this way. And, oh my, that plum you near choked on  . . .’
    Aware of swift movement beside her, Adjectivia turned to see Adverbia scurrying away. ‘Oh shitzu,’ she exclaimed, and sped after her ugly sister, because no way was she about to take stick from the dowager duchess, whom it was rumoured had a BDSM dungeon where she thwacked a favoured manservant.
    Although dancing with a delightful countess Prince Charming happened to notice the commotion of dowager duchess with silver-topped sword cane raised and looking as though about to commit murder.
    He rushed across to soothe the duchess' enraged state, and copped a crack to shoulder for his trouble. Meanwhile the clock had begun striking the midnight hour.
    Unbeknown to the prince, the beautiful Countess of Makebelieve (former dancing partner) heard the clock chiming and suddenly upped and fled the ballroom.
    Dandini, the Prince' personal aide, ran after the countess but she had simply vanished.
    Strange as it seemed, several white mice were milling around in a somewhat confused state at the foot of the palace steps. Stranger still, a hollow pumpkin reminiscent in shape to that of coach minus its wheels had been left in the middle of the courtyard.
    Dandini then spied a glass slipper abandoned on the far side of the steps. He retrieved the crystal slipper, fondled it, and stood for moment pondering the disappearance of the Countess of Makebelieve. Why would she flee?
    Ah, but come to think of it, when first introduced to Baron Noun-Hardup, the young countess had looked utterly radiant? Yet, when the Baron’s new wife flounced toward her, the Countess of Makebelieve's expression fell ashen as though fearful of the ugly sisters' mother, Pronouncia.
    In fact, the more Dandini thought about the strangely beautiful young Countess of Makebelieve, a brief encounter came to mind. Was it possible the beautiful young countess was none other than Cinders, the baron’s daughter gained from a previous marriage? He’d spied Cinders in the market a few days prior to the Great Ball and looking more servant girl than that of a countess. Although shamed to witness her plight that day, Cinder’s was not his problem back then but she could become a major stumbling block to his own ambitions. The blasted Get-a-Wife Ball, essentially a singles ball for the Prince to select a bride erred more nightmare than grand occasion. Now that he was sure the mystery countess was indeed Cinderella Noun-Hardup, she might just prove tempting enough for the prince.
    It all made sense now. Hmmm.
    Poor Prince Charming II, under extreme pressure from his Uncle to secure a would-be bride this very night had dutifully implied sense of interest in the Countess of Makebelieve, though she was far from his desired choice for a life partner he had to choose someone to grant him an heir. And, of course, Noun-Hardup’s second wife had wanted the ugly stepdaughters presented to the Prince excluding the beautiful Cinders from same opportunity, no doubt. So, who had helped Cinders make it to the ball in disguise? Cinders, had for definite displayed keened attention to the prince.
    Well, she couldn’t have him.
    Dandini tossed the glass slipper over the palace wall: the sound of splintering glass to be pure satisfaction to the ear. Much to his consternation there was nothing but silence.
    Nevertheless, Dandini turned about, sense of glee on face, and there stood Prince Charming.
    'You’re looking decidedly guilty, my dear Dandini. What pray, went over yonder wall?'
    Dandini chuckled, 'The one item assured to secure a marital noose around your neck, by some do-gooding fairy godmother.'
    ‘Thank God, for that,’ said the prince, rubbing the spot where the dowager duchess had clobbered his shoulder. ‘I felt sure my secret would be exposed sooner than anticipated.’
    'Oh please, anytime.' Dandini stepped close to the prince, voice fallen to whisper, ‘Kiss me, Queenie.’
    ‘That I shall, my gorgeous six-pack Dandini, but don't ever call me that in public. Prince I am by day, Queenie by night.’
    Dandini fell into the Prince’ arms, said, ‘We cannot hide our love for ever, my prince.’
    ‘The prince kissed Dandini with passion and intensity.
    Unbeknown to the amorous bewigged young gentlemen, the glass slipper remained unscathed and safe in the hands of the real Prince Charming: Prince Rupert Charming.



    Supposedly lost at sea when in fact turned into a frog by an evil witch, the real Prince Rupert Charming has all the while awaited his opportunity to reclaim his throne. Knowing only a maiden's kiss can break the evil spell he's had no luck so far in that quest.
    With the glass slipper he has a bartering tool and he knows Cinder's is kind and loving and will want the slipper back, and he's betting his life on that for he knows she is smitten with the bogus prince: his identical twin brother Quentin (Queenie) Charming.
    Having fantasised over Cinders for three years and a day of his sitting on a lily pad watching her fetch water from the well, Rupert serenades her the very next time she passes by his royal pond.
    And Lo & Behold: the ruse works.
    On the day of the grand wedding between Prince Charming and the Countess of Makebelieve, two men, banished from the Principality, sail off into the sunset…


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