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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Dressed to Sell!

There is nothing more important than having your book dressed to sell! Tim Vicary talks about Cathy's Beautiful Covers and how being turned out in a designer outfit can make a difference.

When I started out as an independent author, I made my own ebook covers. It seemed the only solution; I didn't know what else to do. I was quite proud of the results at the time, but as you see, they are fairly primitive. And it took an immense amount of time, stumbling and grumbling my way through Photoshop, muttering, and begging my long-suffering son-in-law for advice.
The truth is, I have no talent or skills in this area. I am all thumbs and fumbling. I even have difficulty uploading photos from my camera or phone to the computer - still do - and pasting photos onto a blog post still takes me ten times as long as it ought to. My children shake their heads in despair; they master these things in seconds, it seems.
Then one day I had the bright idea of searching the internet - another new skill! - to see if anyone did this professionally. And almost immediately I had the most enormous stroke of luck. I found a website - Avalon Graphics - which seemed promising, so I sent an email. 'Dear Avalon,' I began, 'if that is your name ...'
And so began a wonderful relationship; I met my first, best internet friend. The internet is a marvellous thing. Cathy Helms - the owner of Avalon Graphics - lives in North Carolina, USA, an ocean away from North Yorkshire, UK. Yet right from the start she was helpful, friendly, full of useful ideas, and most importantly, patient. She took my stumbling suggestions and transformed them into intelligent drafts; and then altered them again and again until I, and she, were completely satisfied.
She has many skills, but the most important of all, I think, is patience.
This was an enormous discovery for me. I'd been writing books for many years, with moderate success, but I'd had almost zero influence on my books' covers. That's not to say that all the covers were bad - some, especially those produced by Oxford University Press for my graded readers - were excellent; but others, unfortunately, were not. Some (see below) were diabolical. But whenever I suggested an idea or a change I was put very firmly in my place. 'That's the publisher's business, not yours,' I was told. 'We're professionals; we have experts in marketing and design, we know what we're doing. You just ... well, write the books.' You're the author, go play.
But when you're an indie author, everything changes. It's not just that Cathy is wonderful, though she is; it's also that she's working for me. I employ her; I buy her services. So if I don't like the result, I say so. We're two independent individuals bound by a contract. And the one person who knows most about the book - me, the author - has a direct input into the cover on the outside.
That's marvellous, in my opinion. A huge improvement. It's also a lot of fun. Take the covers for my first two legal thrillers - A Game of Proof and A Fatal Verdict. The courthouse in the background is the Crown Court in York, where much of the action took place. I took the photos of that, and sent them to Cathy. The barrister in the foreground is my daughter (who really is a barrister) I took those photos too. Then Cathy put it all together.
Now compare those covers with the original cover of A Game of Proof (first published under my pseudonym Megan Stark - that's another story) produced by professionals and experts at Constable & Robinson in London and Carroll & Graf in New York. See what I mean?
Just because I'm only the author doesn't mean that I'm not interested in market testing. I spent a lot of time walking round bookshops, looking at covers of similar books and getting ideas from those I liked best. For each of my books Cathy sent me many different drafts to look at and criticise. I work at a university so I would print all these out in A4 sheets, lay them on a desk, and ask as many people as I could to choose which they liked best. Sometimes I got a group of 50 students: each was asked to come into a room, on her own, and choose one of maybe half a dozen covers. I gave each person about half a minute - roughly the amount of time a customer might spent glancing a book cover in Waterstones, maybe.

Original Cover

Did I get it right every time? Probably not. I decided to change the original cover for Cat & Mouse (based on a suffragette poster from 1914) to the new one based on painting by Velasquez which features strongly in the first chapter. But that's another beauty of life as an indie author - you're in charge, you can change things as often as you like. Of course, that means all the mistakes are yours, too.
So there you are. It's been a great experience and very satisfying. I feel I own my books now in a way that I didn't before. And I've also made a new friend. Last summer I had the great pleasure of showing Cathy and her husband Ray around the historic city of York, when they visited England for a conference. I'll definitely be asking her to design the cover for my next book.
And if you, the reader, are looking for a cover artist, I know one I can definitely recommend!

Find out more about Tim by visiting our Author, Books & Trailer Pages

Cathy Helms, Avalon Graphics is a sponsor of FFP and our Author Showcase Trailer is designed and produced by this very talented lady.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Where the Bulbul Sings, Reviewed by Cathy Speight

“Serena portrays strong women, and what I liked is that she bounced your feelings about them back and forth between respect and reservation about the choices each makes.” Where the Bulbul Sings by Serena Fairfax is the latest book reviewed by Cathy Speight

A story that spans seventy years or so, starting from the beginning of the Second World War, this book is a rich tapestry of determination, love, politics, discrimination, wealth, desperation, secrets and survival, set in India, a country equally rich in language, culture, religion, customs, landscape and people. 

The main character is Hermie, a focussed and single-minded young lady who is determined to abandon her Anglo-Indian roots, her mundane existence, and her family for a better future. She certainly manages to take out the mundanity in her life; her rocky road to happiness isn’t quite the one she hoped for, but it brings special people into her life, in particular, Edith, a German exile, no less focussed than Hermie but less idealistic and, thankfully, more clear-headed. Their lives are almost inextricably linked by the choices each makes, the people they meet, and the people they love. When Kay, another resolute young lady, enters their lives in their twilight years, Hermie discovers that some secrets cannot be hidden forever. 

This is quite a long book, and not only did I find it just a tad slow-going at first, I found the lack of good editing rather irritating: there is a good deal of head-hopping, some lack of continuity, spelling errors and missing words in the narrative, and poor punctuation throughout. The progression of time is a little erratic. However, I have to admit that it was extremely easy to be totally drawn into the characters’ lives and the setting, and when I finished the book, I found myself a little disappointed that I was no longer being transported to India! 

Serena portrays strong women, and what I liked is that she bounced your feelings about them back and forth between respect and reservation about the choices each makes. The story is expertly entwined with Indian history and culture: the use of Indian terminology for servants and food, for example, added richness to the scene setting which Serena does superbly. She has excellent descriptive techniques to paint a fine and detailed picture of many aspects of India, and the dialogue is sharp, sometimes witty, and appropriately ‘regional’. 

Very definitely worth a read. 

Find out more about Serena and her books by visiting our Author & Books Page

Find out more about Cathy by visiting our Reviewers Page

Saturday, 27 April 2013

HUG A BOOK with D S Ingram

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with D S Ingram (Debbie)


You could win a Kindle copy of
Angel Girls


Meet Debbie

Debbi Ingram. I am a mother of two boys, and a new grandmother to baby Amelia. I was born and raised in Islington London, but have lived in East London
for seventeen years. I am passionate about animals and dogs in particular. I have two dogs, a Labrador and a Parsons Jack Russell. I started writing seriously five years ago as I had to give up work after a stroke.
I had always loved writing, but had never had the time before to pursue it. I made a full recovery from the stroke and heart surgery and it changed my life for the better. I started taking my writing seriously. Poppy Days was published on Kindle in February 2012.

Details of Angel Girls

Carrie Miller and her daughter Sarah share a dark secret that no one must ever discover. A secret surrounding the demise of a brutal husband and father. Carrie and Sarah are determined that no one will ever uncover the truth. Not even Jonny Mason the handsome young man who adores Sarah and would do anything for her. Even Sarah's best friend, Suzy Pond does not know the terrible truth. Suzy is too busy coping with her wayward boyfriend, Billy. How will she cope when he steals from her and leaves her pregnant and alone? How will Jonny cope when his own beloved father has been brutally attacked and left for dead? As one young man's life spirals out of control, the women around him gather their strength.Some secrets are better left alone, some friendships are shattered forever, whilst others are strong enough to weather the most terrible of tragedies.

Available for Kindle & Paperback



Carrie Miller had been shocked the first time her Tommy had hit her.
 Not her darling Tommy! They had been together since their school days and had got married on her birthday, in June 1943. They had always had a volatile relationship, but in the beginning, it was Tommy’s fiery personality that Carrie had found exciting. Tommy had a short temper, but he had never been violent.  Well, not towards her, anyway. She had seen him have a few fights with other boys at school, and he often clashed with his brothers, but he was very protective towards her, and had always treated her well. She had felt safe with Tommy by her side. She thought he would always protect her. When they had argued, they had always made up over a kiss and a cuddle.
 Carrie Barlow, as she was then, had fallen for Tommy Miller the first time she had seen him. He had been the new boy in her class at school, a tall, dark haired lad with a cheeky grin, and a twinkle in his eye. They had both been twelve. All the other girls in the class had given Tommy the eye, but he had ignored all of them except Carrie. She had given him a shy smile, and he had grinned back at her. She had felt her heart give a little flutter. She never forgot that feeling, the first spark of love. He had asked to carry her books home and they had been inseparable after that. Carrie had felt very special. The handsomest boy in the whole school had singled her out! All the other girls were green with envy. Tommy had even had a playground scuffle with Gerald Dowelling, the tall blonde boy who kept smiling at Carrie across the classroom. Gerald had never looked her way after that, not after Tommy had blacked both his eyes. Tommy and Gerald had both been hauled into the headmasters study for that and had been given the cane for fighting, but Tommy had said it was worth it, Carrie belonged to him. Carrie had not thought of it as being possessive, at that tender age such a thought would never have entered her head. No, she had been flattered. It was not exactly a romance at that age either but they both knew, even then, that one day they would get married. Carrie knew she would never look at anyone else. She had told Tommy that, and meant it after he and Gerald had that fight. Now she had her Tommy she would never look at any one else. Poor little Carrie Barlow. Her fate had already been sealed.

Debbie’s Links

Twitter: @Dollshousedeb

How old was Carrie when she fell for Tommy?

Answers in the comments and good luck!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Dreams, Invisibility & Crocs!

What does Lizzie Lamb dream of? What Caroline James do if she was invisible & what did Cathy Speight say she would never wear? Answer to these are below!

Girl Can Dream Can't She? – Lizzie Lamb

I'm assuming that money is no object here?  

In that case please book me a suite of rooms at Burgh Island hotel (photo 2), South Devon. Surrounded by art deco splendour and wall to wall room service I will be free to spend my days (as Agatha Christie did)  swimming, sight seeing, walking and having marvellous lunches on the terrace. I might even be able to fit in a bit of light writing, should the whim take me. 

Although I enjoy writing rom coms I will be so inspired by the surroundings - and the fact that Agatha got her inspiration for Evil Under the Sun whilst staying here, that I might branch out into murder mysteries. In the third  photo you can see the beach where Agatha dreamed up the scene where one of the characters - thought to be sleeping under a large sun hat, had in fact been murdered. 

I might even invent a modern day version of Miss Marple or a slimmer, trimmer version of Hercule Poirot.

Should the money run out before I've finished my WIP, please downgrade me to the Pilchard Inn (part of Burgh Island Hotel) where I will finish my novel before, sadly, returning to reality. 

The Invisible Me – Caroline James

'And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round…'

So said the Beatles and I'd like to be that Fool On The Hill who nobody noticed - invisible to the world. I'd wander from country to country, stopping at trouble spots - seeing things no one else saw. I'd like to play God, to help an unhappy child, to feed a hungry mouth, to comfort a lonely person. Quietly and without fuss, to creep in and wave a wand, to make the wrong things right.

Like The Fool On The Hill, I’d see the sun going down, and hoped I'd made a difference.

What I wouldn’t wear! – Cathy Speight

Leggings!  No one over the age of ten should wear leggings and certainly no one who is even half an ounce overweight or hasn’t got Naomi Campbell’s legs.  They aren’t adults’ clothing…as for flowery leggings......
 Crocs!  Very comfortable, very colourful…for gardening.  They are not a fashion accessory.  I do have a pair, yes, but I’d never wear them out the confines of my garden. 

Tracksuit bottoms.  Only place for those is the track.  They are not for shopping in, not for going to the pub in.  They are for athletics or the gym.

Trousers and skirts with elasticated waists.  At least not until I’m 110.

Hats.  I have nothing against them, I love them, but I look absolutely minging in a hat.  I’m jealous of people who look so good in them!

Find out more about Lizzie & Caroline by visiting our Author Page

Find out more about Cathy by visiting our Reviewer’s Page

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Reviewed - Storm Clouds Gathering

“It really is a novel that will fill your heart…” says Kathryn Brown about Pauline Barclay’s latest book.

This was one of the best books I've read for a long time. Three different families' stories, interwoven and brought together by tragedy and heartbreak. Twists and turns aplenty, a complete page-turned that I found myself reading late into the night. Pauline Barclay has obviously done a huge amount of research to get descriptions perfect, including the typical 1960's dress-code and the way women were just starting to gain independence. I would feel quite confident recommending this book to anyone; old, young, male or female. It really is a novel that will fill your heart and leave you sad when it ends.
Find out more about Pauline by visiting our Author, Books, Trailer & Review Pages

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Peggy Stanton Chats with Serena Fairfax

Today I have a fascinating guest in my chat studio, author of several top sellers, Serena Fairfax.

Peggy: I see you spent your childhood in India. As a child we had neighbours from India; they cooked a lot of curry. In those days it was not that common in our street and the women used to complain! I bet your childhood was a long way from moaning neighbours. Tell me a little of how different it was to growing up in the UK.

Serena:  A childhood in India is something that will resonate with me forever. It was always sunny (except during the monsoon season – the drenching rain has to be experienced to be believed. It’s like a fire engine  hosepipe that can’t  be turned off. ) During the blazing heat of  summer, before the monsoon broke, we’d decamp for several weeks to a pine scented hill resort  with stunning views of the Himalayas  where we rode hill ponies, picnicked at waterfalls,  roller skated, saw a few smelly pandas   (trekked over the border  by Tibetan muleteers ) and hiked to the source of the river Ganges. As a child all decisions are made for one so I suppose the real difference is that there was a large retinue of fetchers and carriers  which is probably why I’m utterly incapable of doing anything practical for myself.

 Peggy: Sounds an idyllic life you had and it must be wonderful to have servants to do everything for you. I wish! I see from my notes you now live in England. When did you come back and why?

Serena:  My father was an international businessman who jetted all over the world with us but  when I reached secondary school stage I was sent to  boarding school in England ( a fun place  with inspiring teachers)  followed by University. Vacations were spent  in whatever exotic spots my parents  happened to be living.

Peggy: The more I hear about you the more I realize I am from a different world. Your world sounds a fabulous one, I can only envy. But hey ho, back to reality for me. I note you’ve written and published many books, but when you’re not writing you are a full time lawyer. Do you get to send wicked  people to prison? I do hope so, but tell me more as I love a good court case.

Serena:  I’m not into criminal law, although I‘d love to write a murder most  foul.  I specialise in commercial law which is not as dry as it sounds  because  it can lead to some gripping, dramatic  and expensive court feuds such as  the  recent one between  two  Russian oligarchs  ( a case in which I wasn’t involved).

Peggy: See what I mean, you live in a fascinating world. Tell me of all your books which is your favourite and why?

Serena: I don’t have  a favourite because they were all written at different times and the mood of each  is different. I have  favourite characters, though. First is the Maharajah of Walipur who features in WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS . I’d have loved to have known him- an ace sportsman and pilot, he’s a handsome, engaging, high roller who idled away his days at Cambridge University and went down without taking a degree. He has an eye for the girls and is a generous host and a hot lover, without a mean bone in his body. Then there’s Dame Marjorie Sandringham from IN THE PINK. She’s a mischievous woman who hides a secret and wields a dagger behind the gloss and charm!

Peggy: I like the sound of your ace sportsman, to be young again! Do you have a family?

Serena:   Tut, tut, that’s a cheeky question! Family is off limits.

Peggy:  Oh dear I am sorry, I hadn’t realized or I would never have asked. In my life family is important so assumed, quite wrongly, it was a normal question! Not sure if I should ask the next question, but I’ll risk another rebuke. Do you have any pets?

Serena:  My golden retriever Inspector Morse is fantastic. I used to have a spaniel  that contracted rabies when I lived abroad and a dachshund.

 Peggy:  And finally, where is your favourite place and why? It can be on this planet or in your imagination.

Serena:  Here are a  few of my favourite things …
Cuba  for its quirkiness, fascinating history and architecture and Hemingway’s bar in Havana.   

Peggy: Thank you for the interview, fascinating and what a wonderfully privileged world you live in.  Thank you for giving me a glimpse of it.

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

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Writing that Sequel by Michelle Betham

Extra Time, is the next book in the Striker Trilogy by Michelle Betham and today she shares the highs and lows of writing that sequel…
Writing a sequel is always hard, in my opinion. Even though, as the writer, you already know the characters and their story so far, I still find starting that next installment quite a daunting task. And sitting down to begin work on ‘Extra Time’, the second book in the ‘Striker’ Trilogy – a series of books I’ve playfully dubbed “Fifty Shades of Football” – was no exception.
True to form, I’d fallen in love completely with the characters in ‘Striker’, my sexy contemporary romance set in (but not about) the world of professional football. But that only meant I felt an even bigger responsibility to make sure I did those characters justice in ‘Extra Time’. However, as soon as I’d typed that first paragraph, I knew I’d made the right decision to start work on this second book in the series as soon as ‘Striker’ had been released. However, that didn’t mean everything flowed easily and I knew exactly what was going to happen. I did have a storyline in mind – I knew what was going to happen to certain characters, or what I’d like to happen to certain characters; I had an inkling as to how their journey would pan out. But I think most writers will agree that what you set out to do in the early stages of any WIP, and what you actually end up writing, can be two completely different things. And that’s exactly what’s happened with ‘Extra Time’. Some characters’ journeys have altered slightly, new characters have been introduced, and someone’s situation has changed dramatically since the first book, which hadn’t been my intention when I’d started this sequel. But that’s what I love about writing – the characters you’ve created sometimes end up telling their own story, and you’ve just got to follow that story and let them take you wherever they’re heading.
There are still days when I’ll sit and wonder if someone really is going in the right direction, or whether a certain character is maybe just a little too much in the background, but then I’ll take some time to look back over the story so far, review the notes I’ve written, and that’s when I realise that it’s best just to let the story flow the way it’s going. I’ve got a terrible habit of over-thinking stuff – and that doesn’t just apply to my writing! – so I’m learning to just sit back and let my characters move forward without me pulling them back or changing their journey too much.
This second book in the series also requires me to do a little bit of research on a couple of subjects – one football-related, one not – so that’s obviously taking up a little bit of time, too, but getting the facts right is important to me. Even if something is only mentioned once or twice, I’d like the facts to be as accurate as possible.
So, all in all, it’s fair to say that the first draft of ‘Extra Time’ is well on its way. I’m about a quarter of the way through now, and I think I’ve finally got the story sorted and ticking along, even if it has thrown up a few surprises and taken a few twists and turns I hadn’t expected it to take. But, hey, if your own book surprises you, then surely that’s a good sign for any potential readers? Let’s hope so…
Extra Time  – Book 2 in the ‘Striker’ Trilogy – is due for release later this year.

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

Monday, 22 April 2013

Welcome Phillip Winberry

Today we are delighted to welcome Phillip Winberry, author of Reno Splits to our dynamic and supportive Group – a warm welcome Phillip.

For most of his life Phillip Winberry has been an avid reader of mystery and suspense novels.  When he was casting about for what the next phase of his life should look like as his nearly four decade long legal career was coming to a close it made sense that he would turn to writing what he loved to read.  The initial effort in his new endeavor, Reno Splits: Mystery on a Nevada Divorce Ranch, was e-published in August 2012 and recently was awarded the indieBRAG Medallion™ by the Book Reader’s Appreciation Group.

He lives with his wife, Constance, and their beloved Weimaraner on Whidbey Island Washington in a home overlooking the Puget Sound shipping lanes and the majestic Olympic Mountains.  Currently he is editing and considering finishing touches on a novel of genealogical suspense set in 1943 wartime and 1947 post World War II England.  Falling from the Sky will be e-published in summer 2013.

Phillip’s third novel, a mystery set on a small Puget Sound island and tentatively titled Foxglove, is in the initial stages of development for publication in 2014.  You can view his blog at and follow him on Twitter @phillipwinberry.

Find our more about Phillip's debut novel, Reno Splits by visiting our Books Page

Saturday, 20 April 2013

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


You could win a Kindle copy of
A Salt Splashed Cradle


Meet Chris

Chris Longmuir - I won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2009 with my first crime novel. The prizewinning novel, Dead Wood, was published by Polygon and was so successful that the first print run sold out within four months.
Night Watcher is my second crime novel and is now published as a Kindle edition ebook. I have also published a historical saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle, set in a Scottish fishing community, and two books of short stories - Obsession & Other Stories, and Gost Train & Other Stories. I also write short stories and historical articles for magazines which are published in the UK
and the US. I am currently working on a further two crime novels. I am fascinated by electronic gadgets of all types and descriptions and am never happier than when experimenting with new hardware and software. I designed and put up my own website and build computers in my spare time. I describes herself as being a bit of a techno-geek.

Details of 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?

Available for Kindle & paperback



A Salt Splashed Cradle

The walls of the house were closing in on her and the only sun Belle had experienced over the past six weeks had been that which sneaked in when the door opened. The boats had been to sea at least four times since Sarah’s birth and Belle had not been allowed to step outside the door of the cottage. Her nerves were now at screaming pitch, and she was convinced she’d been condemned to a life of green-tinged gloom.

‘You can’t go out until you’re ready to be kirked,’ Annie told her, ‘for it’s not a changeling you’ll be wanting.’
‘I don’t believe in your silly superstitions,’ Belle wanted to retort, but held her tongue. There were so many customs and beliefs held by the fisher folk that seemed strange to her, and she was finding it more difficult than ever to fit in.

‘You’ll wait to be kirked,’ Annie’s tone had been final.

Belle bit her lip but knew better than to argue with her mother-in-law. Anyway, how could she tell Annie why she did not want to be kirked, or why she did not want Sarah christened. She had too many bad memories of churches and ministers. Of the things her uncle had done to her, and the penances he had made her perform afterwards for making him succumb to the temptations of the flesh.
Eventually Belle’s longing for fresh air and sunshine became too much for her and she agreed to the kirking in order to get out of the house. Now, as she struggled to fasten her best dress, she pushed the thought of the christening to the back of her mind.

The heat of the sun struck Belle like a physical blow when she left the house. Narrowing her eyes against the impact she was not sure if she was crying for joy, or whether the glaring brightness was forcing the water from her eyes.

The villagers were already making their way to the church, up the path that led to the top of the cliff, and Belle could sense their curiosity. It shimmered in the air like the heat waves rising off the cliff, seen but unseen.

The shawl clad figures walked in little huddles that were in some strange way attached to each other, but separate from her. She was not one of them. Their eyes never seemed to meet hers, while at the same time they exuded a barely concealed air of contempt for her, bringing out all the feelings of worthlessness and vulnerability that she was trying so hard to suppress. It was just as well she’d put on her finest dress and daintiest slippers, because this was the only way she could show them she was better than they were in their dull, coarse skirts and blouses, and their heavy, ungainly shoes.

‘Belle,’ Annie’s voice sounded sharp, ‘the bairn will slip and fall out of that shawl before you’re halfway up the cliff path. Come back in and I’ll give you one of mine.’

‘Sarah’s fine, she’ll come to no harm.’ Belle forced the words out. She fingered the silk and wool shawl that she had wound round Sarah before strapping her to her breast and thought of the length of time it had taken to arrange the pattern and the fringes to their best effect. She did not want one of Annie’s shawls which were horrid homespun things. They were scratchy and uncomfortable and would hide what she was wearing. The clothes she was relying on to boost her confidence.

‘I’ll brook no argument. I’ll not have you kill the child, for that path’s steep and your shawl’s too silky to hold her. Take it off.’
‘Can I wear Belle’s shawl?’ Jeannie had followed her mother out of the door.
‘No you may not, and neither will Belle.’
Belle unwrapped Sarah and removed the silky shawl, reluctantly winding the one Annie handed her round her shoulders and round Sarah.

‘That’s better,’ Annie said, pinning it into place.

The shawl smelled of fish combined with soot from the fire, and the roughness of it scratched her neck. Belle felt like crying and her resentment of Annie increased. The baby did not seem to mind though, as she snuggled into her mother’s breast, alternatively sucking her lips and making little mewing noises.

Chris’s Links

What did the shawl smell of?

Answers in the comments and good luck!

You can now watch the Trailer