Sunday, 29 March 2015

More Sunday and an excerpt!

Hello again....

as promised earlier, here follows a little excerpt from my new version of Monogamy Twist.

This is from the very beginning...


Chapter One

 “Come on, Amelia.”
Luke Salieri’s curled fist thumped repetitively at the wood.
“Do you reckon I’m such a sucker? Even if I am talking to an effing ghost?”
A response wasn’t reasonable because he was talking to a damp wall-covering that oozed around under his warm skin. It was unable to reply to him, just like Amelia Greywood couldn’t either, because she’d been dead the best part of two weeks.
“Your conditions are a bloody insult.”
Striding off to yet another room, he let off even more steam. The bedroom was brimful of contents as though the room was still lived in, yet no-one had inhabited it for a long time, not even Amelia’s ghost. The house wasn’t the least bit spooky, but if talking to her damned spirit would conjure her up it would be worth it. Just to have his questions answered. What the Dickens was he going to do about this property?
“Why did you choose me, Amelia?”
He loathed indecision, avoided anything that made him feel vulnerable, but this was like playing some game with pieces missing, knowing his opponent had a full deck, and that only by resorting to some kind of dishonesty would he gain success. Yet honesty was Luke’s middle name. He was straight in business and candid to a fault in his personal life. Which often annoyed his girlfriends, though right that moment it was Amelia who was the one pissing him off.
He could afford to renovate the dilapidated property, but the rest of her conditions were an antiquated, potentially deceitful nightmare.
Temper barely leashed he confronted the elusive spectre, wishing he could conjure up her image. He couldn’t though, because he’d never met the blasted woman.
“So, tell me, Amelia. Where did you dredge up my name from?”
He swept open a Victorian monstrosity of a wardrobe, the epitome of vivid childish nightmares, not surprised to find it still contained flouncy dresses that were moth-eaten and mouldy.
“Hmm? Did you use a pin on a Trades Directory? I hardly think the internet was quite your style. Unless you were an astute silver surfer?”
That notion made him groan. Could Amelia have surfed the web to find the biggest dupe? Picked for his professional expertise was the only thing that made any sense, the only thing that gave the whole ridiculous scenario any credibility.
He strode to the nearest window to get the smell of camphor-balls out of his nostrils. The tall sash casements were clad with distressed claret brocade drapes, so distressed the colour had sun-faded to a pale blush wine. Pushing aside more cobwebs than material, he flicked the catch and yanked the window open, a shard of deteriorated wood slicing his index finger.
“Shit!” Curses garbled as he sucked off dripping blood and teased out the substantial splinter with his teeth. “How could you let a stately old home like this decay so much, Amelia?”
He tried to force the window down again, but it refused to budge, his frustrated grunts disturbed by some wildly frenetic barking.
“What the...” His part-question fogged the windowpane. The beast making the racket was a whirling dervish frolicking over the rough grass.
He grinned, the whimsical interruption lifting his tension.
“Thor. Get back here now!”
Wikimedia Commons
The peremptory command came from a woman who was exiting the woods bordering the lawn. Luke smiled again as the excited Irish wolfhound completely ignored its owner, instead bounding up to the dilapidated flagstones of what had once been an impressive terrace way down below him. He considered ignoring his dilemma as well; considered making a similar swift bounce-away.
From his third level vantage point, the young woman recaptured his attention as she ploughed across the overgrown lawn grass. Her husky voice was firm.
“You went off again too quickly, you disobedient pup.”
Pup? The beast was enormous. Luke’s focus zoomed in on the woman as she capered back from the animal’s attentions. Her lava black hair settled around her chin as she came to a gradual halt and gathered the squirming beast close to her. The dog’s tongue lapped out to lick her face, revealing the ungainly quivering of body hair as the long forelegs stretched up onto her shoulders. He watched her almost overbalance under the onslaught of adoration from the dog. She was a tiny little woman, and Thor was one very big canine.
“Get down, Thor!”
The melodious chime of her laughter imprinted itself somewhere inside him as she thrust the hound down to ground level.
“You’re not a little pup any more.”
Thor? A good name for a powerful beast, he thought, watching her rub the dog’s underside. Scratching below his own belly, he adjusted his stance at the window. His imagination surged, the heat of the sun blasting in the window.
“Who are you?” His question misted the filthy pane, the little pixie below making quite an impact. “A woodland elf?” Well, she had materialized out of the woods and he presently felt he was in some nightmarish fairy tale. His harsh laugh echoed around him in the empty room. Was his fatigue so bad he was hallucinating? An ironic burst peeled out again, loud enough to make the dog’s ears perk up.
Warf. Warf.
 There was no quiet barking from this particular canine, its exuberance boisterous and excited as it capered way down below the window.
“Come on. Time to go, Thor.”
Who was the woman? He watched as she ushered the animal back to the woods. What was she doing in the grounds of Greywood Hall, seemingly so familiar? Realising he wanted answers to those questions, Luke erupted into the corridor taking the treads on the internal central staircase two at a time, trusting they’d not collapse under his pounding feet as he hurried outside.
There was no sign of her as he scanned the gardens. 


Sunday Smiles and... surprises!

Sunday Morning - still.

The clocks have sprung forward but it's still pre-noon as I write this.

There are many cheery things in life but it's a fantastic feeling to check after a book launch and find a new 5 * review.

I popped on to the site a little while ago, just to check the ratings of course. I'm not obsessed, though maybe just a little bit because it's really noice to see the numbers game at something like the 20,000 mark rather than the 7000,000 mark.

Smaller number=more purchases!

As well as finding the ratings still at around 19 thousand I 've also got a...


5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, fab setting, lots of plot surprises! 29 Mar. 2015
By Conni 4
Format:Kindle Edition
A fun read with likeable characters in a gorgeous setting. I really felt as though I was at Greywood hall, I could picture it as I read. I particularly enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book - why an inheritance was left to Luke from a woman he never knew! How Luke and Rhia tracked down the 'why' part of his inheritance gave an intriguing plot with lots of twists and turns along the way. Highly recommend!

Crooked Cat still have it for sale at a bargain 99p for the launch week, so if you've not yet written a review...or even read this quirky 'take' on a Dickensian plot... why not have a try? I'm sure you'll like it. 



ps I'm checking all these links. *wink * 

There'll be an excerpt from Monogamy Twist coming soon...


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Where was I yesterday? Where am I today?

My Saturday update.

As well as being at my Facebook Launch Party for Monogamy Twist yesterday, I was also out blogging with friends.

I was at Ailsa Abraham:

and at Sue Barnard:

and at Tim Taylor as mentioned yesterday.

Today, Saturday 28th March, I'm out doing my post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors where I'm giving an example of  'How to avoid using the word said in dialogue'.  Here's that post REBLOGGED.

He said…she said…No, they didn’t use ‘said’ at all!

I read an article recently − one shared on Facebook − about the controversy over the use of the word said in our writing. Should the overused said be totally expunged from fiction? Or should it be used as often as an author thinks a reader is comfortable with it? The article particularly highlighted the ‘laziness’ of some authors who don’t bother, or take time to vary their vocabulary- their editing skills sloppy. The boring repetition of some recently produced ‘highly acclaimed’ novels was regarded as poor writing being given a prominence that shouldn’t be occurring, and, in essence, an encouragement of the dumbing down of the English language. (My apologies- since it was late at night I didn’t bookmark that particular article, though a Google search will bring up plenty of other articles as in-  HERE)

I know that my own writing style and use of common verbs has changed and evolved hugely over the decades. I grew up with the word ‘said’ being used a LOT in the earliest books that I read, novels like those of Enid Blyton. She was a particularly British author of children’s novels but I imagine in the 1950s and the early 1960s the American equivalents weren’t really all that different. Here’s a bit from the very beginning of one of the books of ‘The Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton - Five on a Treasure Island.

 “Mum, have you decided about our summer holidays yet?” said Julian, at the breakfast table. “Can we go to Polseath as usual?”
“I’m afraid not,” said his mother. “They’re full up this year.”
The three children at the breakfast-table looked at one another in great disappointment. They loved the house at Polseath, and the beach was perfect for swimming.
“Cheer up,” said Dad. “We’ll find somewhere else just as good for you. But Mum and I won’t be going with you this year. Did Mum tell you? ”
“No!” said Anne in surprise. “But…you always come with us on our holidays!”
“Well this time Dad and I have planned to go to Scotland,” said Mum. “Just the two of us! You’re all old enough to look after yourselves now, and we thought you’d love the chance to have a holiday on your own! But now that you can’t go to Polseath, I really don’t know where to send you.” 

I realised quickly enough as a young reader that the simple word said was used to denote a new speaker. The technique of scanning past the word said was learned quickly, said only serving as a highlighter for the name of the speaker which followed on after. I was a voracious reader of Enid Blyton, and anything else I could get my hands on, but I do remember talking to friends at the time and us noting that said was often a bit boring. However, we also did agree, at the time (probably aged 9 or so) that we could romp through the story more easily and it didn’t matter too much because there were heaps of other new words to learn in the stories. (We also learned to use an exclamation mark a LOT! as well. ;-) )
some mine and some belonging to my daughters

By the time I was leaving primary school, at twelve years of age, the word said had almost been drummed out of my own ‘composition’ story writing − a barrage of alternatives learned as substitutes. During my secondary and tertiary education, the use of said more than an occasional time would have earned me a hugely downsized mark in the assessment of written work.

I find it a backward step if authors of today are too lazy to take the time to vary their use of vocabulary since what they are essentially attempting is to use their best language skills to entertain their readers. I’m not saying there is never a place for the word said in dialogue in a novel, but as an adult I’m very put-off (and frankly bored) reading a book if said is used expansively. Put your hand up if you’re already a bit fed up of seeing said highlighted in this article? I know that I am  *grin*. If I use an alternative to said it’s never a word that I don’t know the meaning of. I sometimes use a thesaurus to find alternatives, the options offered rarely new  – but I’m excited if they are. I’m sad if people feel differently and don’t want the effort of extending their vocabulary.

A writing technique more recently learned by me is to totally avoid the use of ‘direct speech’/ ‘dialogue tags’ − or whatever terminology you want to use for it. 

In my soon to be self-published time travel adventure for a Middle Grade/ YA market, The Taexali Game, my excellent editor − Jeff Gardiner − highlighted a few passages where I hadn’t consistently used my ‘avoidance’ technique and where I needed to do more work on it. His advice from the outset had been that the readership market that I was aiming for would be looking for this writing technique to be employed nowadays rather than the more old fashioned use of speech tags. Jeff was a teacher of English till last year, his classes being the 12 -16 age group so he had more recent knowledge than me and I completely trust his advice.

Consistency was achieved but only by me expending effort, and in some instances, dogged slog! Here’s a bit from The Taexali Game. 

(At this point in the story, the contemporary trio of time travellers have been transported from my apart of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, to the same geographical location in AD 210 − though initially on arrival they have no idea where they are or when. Deduction plays highly in the game as they work out what’s happening around them. This era was when the local Celtic Tribes were invaded by thousands of soldiers of the Roman Emperor Severus’ Roman legions and any strangers in the area were suspect)

“You have come to Balbath to speak with my father, Tuadh?” Seonagh prodded closer to Brian, her voice and knife working as one.
“Yes.” Aran decided it was time to join in. “That’s where we’re going, but since you’re here now we’ll just follow you.”
The spear that embedded itself in the ground between himself and Seonagh stunned him, the vibration of the shaft twanging and humming well after the impact. He jumped back from the girl as though scalded.
“Seonagh. Is there trouble?”
The deep boom of the questioner made him whirl around, so silently had the warrior come upon them. The very sound was scary enough to Aran, but that wasn’t a patch on the look of the man who could just be made out in the speckled sunshine. A giant of a warrior loped across the glade towards them. He wasn’t so old, but he was awesomely ferocious looking. Fianna nudged Aran’s elbow.
“He’s totally cool.” Her low tone was somewhere between awe and wonder.
The warrior’s long dirty-blonde hair hung well down below his shoulders, rippling in untidy waves. Two thin braids framed his severe looking face. Above his brow, the hair was short and spiked out stiffly from his scalp. Aran looked at the man’s hair closely. Fianna had described his own hair as being whitened by some sort of gunge. He wanted to feel the top of his head to compare it with the warrior standing before him, but he didn’t think such sharp movements were a great idea.
A small dark blue mark decorated the warrior’s brow. It looked like an animal, maybe even a boar, though he wasn’t sure. He was too far away to see the detail, but there was no way he would willingly go closer to confirm his thoughts.
A bushy moustache on the warrior’s upper lip drooped down the sides of his grim looking mouth; the ends of the whiskers reaching the underside of his otherwise shaved chin. One cheek had a brutal looking scar that sloped from the edge of his eye to just short of his ear, the skin still reddened and puckered, not long healed. One huge fist gripped a slender blade, the deadly-sharp edge glinting in the mottled rays flickering through the trees.
Aran regretted the quick peep he’d dared at the man’s face since the warrior’s menacing black eyes glowered at them all when he stepped purposely between them and the princess, before his gaze focused on the dead animal and the blood around their feet.
“Are you hurt, Seonagh?” The warrior scanned the blood smeared on her.
“Not so much, Tyrnan. This is mainly boar’s blood.” Seonagh pointed to her clothes and legs. “The creature pursued me, but Duhlain and this other young warrior helped kill it. They saved my life because it was sure to disembowel me.”
“And your arm?” Tyrnan growled again not yet satisfied with her wellbeing.
Seonagh looked down at her arm where a steady stream of blood ran down to her fingertips and dripped off, less than there had been earlier but still a reasonable flow. “This is where the boar scraped me. A flesh wound only and nothing to fuss over.” She swiped the blood off with her dress and then examined the cut.
Aran noted the deep slash, about six or seven centimetres long, that had scored through quite a few layers of skin. Blood oozed from the whole area, the edges of the cut ragged and an angry red. He glanced at Brian who wasn’t usually too good when it came to blood and bits, but his mate had buttoned up his feelings fairly well, his teeth biting into his bottom lip, his gaze averted. He was fairly sure if it had been Brian who was injured he’d have easily bested the boar’s squeals.
Peeling off a thin cord from her belt Seonagh mutely handed it over to Tyrnan, her wounded arm outstretched. Her face was pale, but she remained completely silent, her expression blank, showing no sign of any pain. Tyrnan trickled a few droplets of liquid over the cut, from a skin he carried on his belt. A cleansing of sorts. Grunting and muttering, the man’s movements were assured and purposeful as he repeated the treatment, wiping blood away with a piece of cloth that Seonagh took from her waist pouch. The warrior still looked absolutely scary, his mouth remaining a grim straight line, his eyes a black wrath.
Friendly doctor’s bedside manner? Brian clearly didn’t think so; a horrified gasp whiffing past his lips when Tyrnan squeezed the edges of the wound tightly together. It must have been excruciating, but Seonagh didn’t utter a sound. He was very impressed with the princess’s self-control. Brian, on the other hand, now looked like he might pass out.
Tyrnan suddenly barked at Fianna, his anger a petrifying bellow. “Why do you stand there gawping?”
Fianna was riveted to the ground staring vacantly at the warrior. If Tyrnan hadn’t been holding Seonagh’s arm he was convinced Fianna would have received a good sound blow from the back of the man’s hand, before he blasted on at her. “Fetch the healing mosses!”
Fianna was spared from more of Tyrnan’s thunder when Duhlain thrust a pad of moss and lichens into the man’s hand, a bundle that the boy had swiftly pulled up from somewhere close by. In a few quick twists of the cord, the mosses were packed on and Tyrnan had the wound dressed tight and secure.
Aran was seriously impressed… and amused. He’d recently done some first-aid training at his Scout troop. Antiseptic wipes? Butterfly strips? Clean gauze? Sticking plasters or bandage? Nope! Not a one. He couldn’t suppress a small grin from escaping, but he made sure the terrorizing guard didn’t catch sight of it.

 Do you think there’s anything repetitive in this sample? Do you think I’ve used any vocabulary that is too difficult? Do you think a reader of 12 years + would have any problems with understanding who is talking at any given time?  


A whoop of a day!

Happy Saturday indeed!

I'm not sure what other authors feel  like on the morning after a Facebook Launch Party for a new novel, or for a re-launch of a previous novel, but I tend to be pretty exhausted and need a long lie in bed.

Monogamy Twist was successfully re-launched in its new version yesterday. As I write at 10 am on the day following the launch the rankings on Amazon UK are sitting at around 12 thousand. It will only take a few more copies to get that number down to smaller figures but I consider that 12 thousand something is brilliant, so far. 

The ecopies are being launched at 99p/ 99c equivalents so they are a great bargain for a novel a little short of 60 thousand words.

It's a quick and easy read and I hope my new readers find it entertaining.

The aftermath of the party is the sweep up. My job now is to contact those lovely people who entered into the spirit of the party and put forward answers to the quizzes.

My thanks go to my winners: Roland Clarke ( Yorkie cake stickers); Sue Barnard (Family Tree Stickers and and the wooden dog plaque); and Vanessa Knipe (Yorkshire Pudding pan).

My thanks also go to all of those lovely people who also popped in and commented- you're all stars as well.

I'll be back later with today's blogging news when I've sorted those prizes out.


Friday, 27 March 2015

Fantastic Friday!

It's a fantastic Friday! 

I've got Tim Taylor visiting here. I'm on his BLOG doing a blog swap and...I'm also co-hosting the Facebook Launch Party for Monogamy Twist all day. (Just click the link to take you there) 

Tim Taylor
My blog space today, for the 27th March 2015, was booked some time ago by my friend and fellow Crooked Cat- Tim Taylor. Weeks ago, Tim agreed to come and talk about his latest novel, yet to published, but quite different from the other work of his that I've read, which is historical fiction. When we realised it was also my launch day for Monogamy Twist Tim offered to reschedule but I'm really happy that we kept the booking since it's a delight to welcome Tim back.

Like me, he likes to write in different sub-genres of fiction. I'm delighted today to stick to our intended blog swap because he's come to share some contemporary work on a day when I'm also having contemporary writing of mine launched.

I'm over at his blog sharing information on my next two novels which are in the release queue - Monogamy Twist and the Taexali Game whilst he's here giving us an idea of what his newest work- Revolution Day - is about.

I really loved reading Tim's fabulous Zeus of Ithome and I'm very much looking forward to reading Revolution Day when it is published. So...over to Tim...


Hi Nancy, many thanks for hosting me on your blog once again.

Last time I was here I talked about my historical novel, Zeus of Ithome, which follows the real-life struggle of the ancient Messenian people to free themselves from three hundred years of slavery under the Spartans.    

Today, I’d like to give your readers a little preview of my second novel, Revolution Day, about the ageing dictator of a fictional Latin American country, which will be published by Crooked Cat later this year (provisionally on 17 July).   

The title reveals a point of similarity with Zeus, in that both books, in very different ways, describe a revolt against an oppressive regime – in the case of Revolution Day the overthrow of the previous President by the current one, Carlos Almanzor, which is recounted by Almanzor's wife as she writes her memoir.

There the similarity ends.  Zeus is a historical novel, dramatizing actual events (albeit through the lives of mostly fictional characters) which took place well over two thousand years ago.  Revolution Day recounts fictional events in a fictional place, set in the present, albeit interspersed with recollections of what happened in previous decades, against the background of the real fluctuations in relations between the superpowers and their client states. 

The novel charts a year in the life of President Carlos Almanzor, now in his seventies, who is feeling his age and worried that he is losing his grip.  Interspersed with the main narrative are recollections from his estranged and imprisoned wife, Juanita.  She recalls how Carlos fortuitously came to power and how, over time, he gradually changed from an idealistic liberal socialist into an autocrat who now believes that he alone can be trusted with the stewardship of the nation and is prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect himself against the threats that he sees in all directions. 

Carlos’ paranoia, though misdirected, is not without foundation.  For Manuel Jimenez, the vice-President and Minister of Security and Information, has long been resentful of his subordinate position.  When his attempts to expand his role are met with a humiliating rejection, he resolves to take action, and has no qualms about exploiting those close to the President to further his ambitions.  In time, even Juanita will find herself embroiled in his plans.  

I hope that’s been enough to whet a few appetites!  In the run-up to the launch I will be posting some excerpts from Revolution Day on my own blog.  

Many thanks once again for hosting me, Nancy, and good luck with the launches of Monogamy Twist and The Taexali Game!
Zeus of Ithome on 
Twitter @timetaylor1

Thank you for sharing that with us today, Tim. I'll look forward to reading more about it in the coming months...and please come back and share your cover design closer to launch date!  


Thursday, 26 March 2015

What's it all about?

Thursday Thoughts!

Monogamy Twist 

What's it all about? I've been out blogging this week, at various places, to let people know what my first ancestral based mystery is about. Here's a gist of what's been said elsewhere.

When Luke Salieri inherits a dilapidated English estate from a woman he's never heard of— with quirky conditions attached—it’s a mystery he wants to see resolved immediately. But there’s a catch: he needs a woman to meet his needs, though just how far will he have to go to persuade her?
The job of researching Greywood Hall and its fantastic contents is enticing, but can Rhia Ashton see herself living with gorgeous Luke Salieri for a whole year and then walk away? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while.

But neither expect love to enter the game.

I’m very excited that on the 27th March 2015, Crooked Cat Publishing is re-launching a new general reading edition of Monogamy Twist, a light-hearted contemporary romantic mystery. The fabulous quirky new cover, designed by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat, reveals a grand house at the centre of the story which is a really excellent image since the plot is based around a Dickensian theme. Luke Salieri finds he’s been bequeathed a dilapidated mansion in Yorkshire…but he can only fully inherit after some weird and antiquated stipulations are fulfilled! He’s never met his benefactress; hasn’t even heard of her but Luke’s never one to back down from a challenge. He needs expert help, though, to find out why Amelia Greywood chose him and Rhia Ashton seems ideal. Rhia, a historian and family tree researcher, seems perfect but it turns out that she has her own ideas of what will make Luke’s strange request worthwhile. Compromise is the name of the game for Luke…and for Rhia.

It’s probably no surprise that the plot for the novel came about as a combination of my watching the current BBC TV Charles Dickens serial of late 2010 and while I was also doing the first forays in researching my own ancestral background. I found a decided black sheep in one of my great-grandfathers: Rhia finds a good few family surprises for Luke in Monogamy Twist! Rhia and Luke were lovely characters to invent but some readers have told me that they love Thor, the Irish wolfhound, even more!

I extend a warm welcome to your readers to join my Facebook Launch Party for Monogamy Twist on the 27th March 2015. Quirky goodies can be won. There’ll be music; food; lovely locations in Yorkshire… Why not pop in and say hello!





Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

It's... Precious by Zanna Mackenzie!

Hello everyone and a happy Wednesday to you!

I'm out visiting again today. 
  • You'll find me doing a book spotlight at my Crooked Cat friend Nik Morton's blog 
  • and I've also been answering some fantastic interview questions at Shani Struthers 
Please pop over and find me there.

Meanwhile on here it's also.....

book spotlight day! 
My friend Zanna Mackenzie has come to share news about PRECIOUS - Book 2 in her Amber Reed CCIA Mystery series. I really enjoy Zanna's writing and look forward to reading more about Amber's sleuthing. Her new book is sitting on my kindle pile right now!

When you see an intriguing tagline that states - “Romantic comedy meets celebrity murder mystery”- I just want to find out exactly what that's about.

...and when you see her wonderful cover, that also makes me want to read as well.

so...what is Precious about? 
When celebrities need a crime solving quickly and discreetly they call in the specialists, the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency, otherwise known as the CCIA…
Who would want to murder former pop star Flynn Garrison?
That’s exactly what Amber Reed, the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency’s newest recruit, needs to find out.
She’s desperate to get to grips with her first assignment and prove she’s up to the job but there’s a lot at stake… and it’s not only her new career that’s on the line.
Is mixing business and pleasure ever a good idea? Will her relationship with fellow CCIA agent Charlie survive the challenge of the two of them working together?
And then there’s agent extraordinaire Martha, a man-eating six foot blonde goddess, also assigned to this murder investigation, who clearly has designs on Charlie.
Trying to uncover who killed Flynn and why whisks Amber from glamorous red carpet film premiere, to learning Scottish dancing at a Highland party in a grand country house - and the distinct possibility of becoming the murderer’s next victim.
Can Amber solve the case and still keep her relationship with Charlie on track?

Find the book on Amazon

Here's a little teaser to get you interested...

“Ah, good, you’re back.” Bethan, the woman who owns the B&B, says as we dash into the entrance hall, dripping rain all over the carpet. She’s standing behind the little reception desk and next to her is a stunningly attractive woman in jeans and a close-fitting jumper, a suitcase at her feet.  “I was just talking to Martha here about how you were both down at the beach with the murder victim.”

Strange – does she usually welcome guests by telling them about bodies washing up on the local beach?

“It hasn’t been confirmed as murder,” Charlie says, following me inside, head down as he pulls off his wet coat. “Not officially.”

The beautiful woman steps forward, ignores me and envelopes Charlie in a hug, catching him off guard. “Charlie!” she squeals excitedly.  “It’s ages since we’ve worked together. So good to see you again!”

Did she just say “work together”?

I watch as Charlie hugs her back, meeting my questioning gaze over her shoulder. 

“Martha, what are you doing here?” he asks once she’s eventually disentangled herself from him.

“The agency sent me to help you out with this case.” Martha casts a dismissive look in my direction. “They wanted their best agents working up here. So,” she shrugs her shoulders in a here-I-am way, “they sent me to work with you. I understand this is Amber’s first case and we don’t want her getting all overwhelmed on an important job like this do we?” She giggles and pushes a hand through her long honey-coloured hair.

They’ve sent Miss Beautiful CCIA Agent to work with Charlie. I’ll probably be relegated to fetching her cups of coffee and typing up her paperwork.

“Anyway,” Miss Beautiful continues, “the boss wants a thorough investigation and expects us to be on this godforsaken island for a while so I’m told the guys back at base have arranged a rental cottage for us all to share. If you want to get packed and meet me back down here then I’ll lead the way to our new home. Ten minutes OK?”


Not only do my new employers not trust me to do my job, they send another agent, a very beautiful one with a superior attitude, to work with Charlie and me on this case. 

Oh, and we all get to share a rental cottage together as well.

I was so wrong when I thought this day couldn’t get any worse…


Zanna Mackenzie lives on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Find out more about Zanna at:

Thank you for sharing your 'Precious' news with us today, Zanna. Wishing you mega sales for all of your books!  


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Book Blitz!


I'm out promoting my new launch news at a lot of blogs just now. 

Today you'll find me at: 
Seumas Gallacher
Maureen Vincent-Northam, 
Zanna Mackenzie 
Roland Clarke and 
Miriam Drori


Monday, 23 March 2015

Monday Moments with Margo and... Saturday in Serendipity

It's Monday again and I'm delighted to welcome Margo Hoornstra who is launching Saturday in Serendipity - a compilation of three novellas. 

Margo's been a great help to me for a long time now - within the group of authors who form MYAHA, a group dedicated to help promote each other's work  - so it's especially lovely to welcome her here today, and she's brought along plenty to keep us going for a great coffee break! There's a fascinating post on an author I'm not sure if I've encountered before -  I've read so many novels that I've forgotten more author names than I remember - yet the name Margo mentions does sound a bit familiar.  We can learn a bit more about Margo's new novellas and she's offering the chance to WIN a $15 Amazon gift Card. So over to Margo...

There Are Authors; And Then There Are Authors

Thank you for having me here today on my Saturday In Serendipity tour. Someone asked me an interesting question once. If I could spend time with any author, living or dead, who would I choose? There are so many storytellers I admire and whose work I enjoy, it was tough to decide on only one. Finally, though, I settled on Phyllis Whitney. My heroine, if you will, when I was younger, and I remain a huge fan. She started out writing short stories, selling well over a hundred, and wrote books for both adults as well as children. The author of more than seventy novels—thirty nine of them with a Gothic twist—she was a true pioneer in the romantic suspense genre so popular today.
She was even dubbed by The New York Times, Queen of American Gothics, a title she reportedly hated, saying instead she wrote romantic novels of suspense.

As I understand, her scheduled time to write was from eight to eleven in the morning, sitting at her desk. According to her biography, she was a diligent plotter, creating notebooks full of information about character, plot and setting before she wrote the first actual word of any manuscript.

The major accomplishment of her lifetime, in my humble opinion, was the fact she wrote continually for eighty of her one-hundred and four years. One thing I remember reading about her was she claimed to like writing, but she loved having written. That’s my kind of writer.

I remain in awe of her extraordinary talent and incredible output.

Though I haven’t even come near to achieving the eighty novel mark, my latest, Saturday In Serendipity, is a compilation of three novellas which revolve around a twentieth high school reunion in Serendipity, Vermont. Serendipity is a mid-sized town located on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Three Strikes Thursday, leaves Barry Carlson, professional baseball’s former golden boy, with some serious making up to do. A love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude of his youth has finally caught up with him. Older, maybe wiser, he’s eager to catch up on what’s important in life. A home and family, someone to love who loves him back just as deeply. Amanda Marsh is the one he foolishly pushed away. He has his work cut out for him if he hopes to ever win her back.

Two On Tuesday, has Serendipity High School graduate Blane Weston viewing her upcoming class reunion  as a chance to renew a former, but not forgotten, love. As she gets ready to attend the week-end festivities, enter Matt Durand, someone she’s recently considered then rejected as a potential business partner. Turns out he won’t take no for an answer and has other ideas for her activities at the reunion. Things go from bad to worse in light of his current involvement with some of the people from her past.

One Fateful Friday, a holiday story of forever friends Jake and Bethany, takes place between Halloween and Christmas Eve, after the reunion. Soul mates through high school, Jake and Bethany went their separate ways after graduation. Brought together twenty years later while both are involved with careers in healthcare, they assume they’ll re-establish their relationship with flawless compatibility. Except, they now hold different philosophies that might jeopardize their chance at a happy future.
These three different couples with common pasts take very different passages to find their own happily ever after futures.

A little about Margo:

Like many writers, it’s hard to determine exactly when my fiction writing career began. I remember composing a short story in grade school (I have no idea about what) which was chosen for publication in an all school anthology. A journalism class taken in junior high school led to a job on the school newspaper and a weekly column.
I always loved reading. I loved writing too. Someday, I thought, maybe when I grew up and received the right training, I could actually write a book. After all, I was often told, laughingly most times, I had an extremely vivid imagination.
Through the years, the desire to write was always there. I had so many ideas and characters roaming around in my head, so many stories. But the business of living—going to college, getting married then raising a family—took precedence over something as frivolous as writing a book.

Then one day out of the blue I was downsized—effective immediately—from a job I’d held for over thirty years. What seemed so unfair at the time, I now recognize the tremendous gift I was given that day. As I’m now able to spend more and more time doing what I love—writing romantic fiction—I find I really do have an abundance of stories to share.

Margo’s Website | TwitterFacebook | Google+ | Goodreads | Amazon  

Buy Link: Amazon   
Here's a little teaser from Two on Tuesday:

…up until a few years ago being alone suited her just fine. Lately though, call it a change in her biological timepiece, she entertained the idea of someone to share her life. Maybe even have a couple of kids.
All that remained was to find the right man for the job.
Car wheels crunched gravel, and she glanced out the window. A shiny black sedan pulled into a parking spot a ways away. Had Malcolm come out to the site for some reason?
She waited a moment to see. It was hardly the slight form of her business partner who emerged from the driver side a few minutes later. The green polo shirt on this man was unbuttoned at the neck and stretched to the limit over large, sturdy shoulders. Her gaze dipped to follow the expanse of a trim male torso then on to the jean covered outline of a noteworthy ass and long legs.
No doubt one of her foreman’s recruits reporting for work. An assessing gaze skimmed over him again. He certainly looked healthy enough for the job. Though she didn’t get why he drove a shiny new car instead of a rugged pick up like most of the others. Edging her head back in the seat, she studied him out the side window. Feet planted wide, something in the way he took in everything around him told her this one knew his way around a construction site. Doing another quick onceover of the man, she let out a sigh. Or life in general.

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Thank you for popping in today, Margo. My best wishes for great success of Saturday in Serendipity.