Wednesday, 19 January 2022

A Wedding on the Riviera - out now in paperback

 

It's been a long time coming, but A Wedding on the Riviera , the second in the Riviera series, is out now as a paperback - available from all good bookshops. If you are thinking of ordering it might I suggest getting it from your local independent bookstore? Local businesses need our support in these troubled times.

The picture is the rather battered box of author copies that arrived in the last days of 2021. There is a story to that too. They were meant to have been delivered on 17th December, but something went wrong and I didn't get them. The courier eventually sorted it out and the box  arrived, looking a little travel-worn. It reminded me of the parcels we used to get from my aunt in America when I was a kid. They were always exciting. I remember one memorable year the parcel contained a 'Midge' doll. She was Barbie's best friend, and my aunt, who absolutely loved prowling around the 'doll' section of the stores, chose her because with freckles and flicked up blonde hair she thought she was "cuter" than Barbie. I was really a little bit too old for dolls, but the attraction was the clothes - I particularly loved the ball gowns and cocktail dresses but she had everything from rainwear with umbrella and wellingtons to fancy lurex jumpsuits. Outfits usually had hats and gloves. That was correct dress in those days - think Jackie Kennedy. Being older I was very careful with tiny shoes, and jewelry and was able to dress her and stand her on my dressing table - she came with a stand. It paid off much later too, when she was the star of a toy auction at Christies.

How did I digress? The books arrived and I was rather worried over the state of the box, but the contents was fine - very classy copies with the name of the book and my name embossed. There is nothing to beat holding a copy of your book in your hand. It doesn't matter if it is the first book, or the fifth. Or probably the fiftieth - not sure I will make that milestone, but all I can do is work towards it. 





Wednesday, 12 January 2022

We're watching you ...


Last week I researched tennis bracelets - a single strand of diamonds for those not it the know. I learned that on a Caribbean cruise many years ago. They were the complete height of fashion at the time but even now they still look good. You know I like diamonds (Hah!)  All the cruising ladies were intent on buying one from the fabulous jewelry stores they have out there. I had emerald earrings on my mind, but that is entirely a different story. These days I can no longer afford either cruise or jewelry, but those were fun times. 

I wanted the bracelet for WIP heroine Masie to wear to a rather posh do at a Learned Society in London, hence the research. (She couldn't afford it either - she borrowed it from Cassie, who is, of course, married to a billionaire.)  As a result of this piece of research, I got a lot of adverts in various feeds for upmarket bling. I very much enjoyed that, although there was no way I could afford what I was being offered. I don't mind being offered 'stuff'' although it is disconcerting to know how closely your browsing is being monitored on occasion. Sometime though, advertisers get it wrong. I'm still puzzling why a certain well known retailer would think I was interested in art supplies and sewing boxes. 

I've just checked the social media - it's currently offering me upmarket house paint and more jewelry. Fair enough, I've expressed an interest in both those.

As a suspense writer I find being stalked by advertisers a little on the creepy side. I'm sure there ought to be a story in there, but I can't think of one right at this moment. Be interesting if something does pop up. 

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Happy New Year?

 


I don't do resolutions - but I do have hopes for 2022. The obvious one is that we may at last get some semblance of normality back - but that is number one on everyone's list. I really do hope that I get that long postponed holiday in the South of France too, but again, that is dependent on things outside my control. 

One thing that is going to happen, that I am really looking forward to, is the release of the paperback version of A Wedding on the Riviera. It's been long delayed because of the virus, but it will be here this month. 

The main thing that I am hoping for is another book in the Riviera series - book four. I'm about half way through the first draft, so it is looking achievable, provided I am not de-railed. I know from experience  how easily that can happen - life gets in the way. Fingers crossed it won't happen this time and you will be enjoying Masie and Elliot's story before the end of the year. 

I'll keep you posted. 

  

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Are you sure it's Wednesday?

Around this time of the year the days get a bit blurred. But I am working, honest. 

The WIP is progressing, slowly - and I have been doing research! Video tours of Monaco and Monte Carlo, on-line snooping around apartments for sale in Bath, to find one for hero Elliot, as he's just invited Masie over for dinner, and also some drinking of oolong tea, which is one of his quirks. 

Christmas and birthdays are a good excuse to treat myself to some posh books from my local Indie bookshop, Griffin Books, in Penarth, who happen to be the bookshop of the month for January for the Crime Writers Association. 

My haul for Christmas was all for research - naturally. 



The South of France book is for the Riviera series - of course - and for the holiday in the South of France I really hope will finally happen this year. The dark skies/star gazing is for something in the future and the book on Ancient Egypt is for the WIP. 

I'm very pleased with them - and useful too. 





Friday, 24 December 2021

Christmas Eve

 It worked! 

All that Christmas spirit from my fellow Choc-lit and Ruby authors has converted me. I've dressed my little white tree and the lovely chocolates from my publisher are underneath it. 



I even got the nativity set out - and I haven't done that for a very long time. 

 
Now all that remains is to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

My final Christmas guest.


You know by now that my fellow Choc-lit and Ruby authors have conspired together to convince me - a Christmas sceptic - about the joys of the festive season. So how is that working out? Have the efforts of Ella and Helen, Angela and Berni had an effect? Well, Timmy says they certainly worked for him, and he insisted that I should find his Christmas hat and coat. I must admit he looks very smart in it. Me - maybe we still have a way to go? Today I have a guest author who has made a bit of a speciality of writing festive books for Choc-lit. Kirsty Ferry has a new paperback version of her 2019 e-book for Choc-lit out - Christmas in the Isle of Skye  and she also has a brand new book for Ruby fiction- Christmas of New Beginnings. That's versatility.


Now I have my mug of advent calendar tea - a festive fruit mix of fruit and chocolate called Chocolate Fondu and today's chocolate nibble, a dark chocolate penguin, and am all ready to let Kirsty persuade me.  She's chosen to highlight four topics from the books that are vital parts of Christmas. 

Over to you, Kirsty.

Favourite Festive Films.

In Christmas of New Beginnings, Cerys and Edie try to plan their Christmas lunch around the timings of Edie’s favourite festive films, Holiday Inn and Willy Wonka,’ but it doesn’t bode well when it’s not a fuss-free meal. When it looks like Frosties and milk are on the menu, Lovely Sam swoops in to save the day. My favourite Christmas films are Elf and Muppets’ Christmas Carol. Elf is for when I wrap my presents and the Muppets are for Christmas Eve. It’s a festive feel-good tradition!

Quirky Christmas Gifts

In Christmas of New Beginnings, Cerys owns a craft shop and tea room, and arranges a village Christmas Craft Fair, and in Christmas on the Isle of Skye, Ivy has her little jewellery business in Glastonbury, and Zac has his in Skye. It’s all the more important to buy artisan or to buy from small businesses this year – I absolutely love quirky Christmas craft fairs…helped along the stalls by a good glug of artisan mulled wine and a home-made mince pie, of course.

Seeing Friends and Family

So, so important after the non-Christmas of 2020. In both my books, there is a strong sense of family and friendship, and no mention of That Christmas or That Year. I’m hopeful that this year my family can, once again, go to our Christmas Eve Carol Concert at church with our friends, and that we’ll have my parents over for coffee and mince pies on Christmas Day afternoon, after going to their house for coffee and mince pies on Christmas Morning.

Respecting other’s beliefs and being kind

A weird one, perhaps, but in Christmas on the Isle of Skye, Ivy and Zac embrace the winter solstice celebrations in Glastonbury, as well as the traditional Christmas they are used to having. Not everyone will have the same traditions and feelings about Christmas as we ourselves do, so it’s important to remember to respect other people and understand that they might not want a big celebration, but just prefer something on a smaller scale. If it works for the person involved, then know that is absolutely fine.

I think those four are really good choices - sadly I'm not sure we will be able to meet with family and friends in quite the free and easy way we were all hoping, but remembering them is still important. I'm really with Kirsty on the last one - one of the things that I dislike about December is the darkness and the cold and I do have a little celebration for myself for the solstice and light a candle, because it marks the point when we start going forward into the light again. I'm glad that Kirsty has reminded me about this. 

Has she succeeded in winning me round? You'll have to wait until later in the week to find out. I still have that empty tree, remember ...

***


Kirsty is writing for the first time for Ruby Fiction with Christmas of New Beginnings - but you can still be sure of a captivating story that's available as an e-book and a paperback 

Not all festive wishes come true right away – sometimes it takes five Christmases …

Folk singer Cerys Davies left Wales for the South Downs village of Padcock at Christmas, desperate for a new beginning. And she ends up having plenty of those: opening a new craft shop-tea room, helping set up the village’s first festive craft fair, and, of course, falling desperately in love with Lovely Sam, the owner of the local pub. It’s just too bad he’s firmly in the clutches of Awful Belinda …

Perhaps Cerys has to learn that some new beginnings take a while to … well, begin! But with a bit of patience, some mild espionage, a generous sprinkling of festive magic and a flock of pub-crashing sheep, could her fifth Christmas in Padcock lead to her best new beginning yet?


You can buy the book HERE



Christmas on the Isle of Skye is part of Kirsty's series that includes Spring at Taigh FallonSummer at Carrick Park and Jessie’s Little Bookshop by the Sea.

How far would you go to be with the one you love at Christmas?
The Isle of Skye is a magical place, especially at Christmas, and there’s no place Zac Fallon would rather be. But whilst Zac has everything he needs on Skye, there’s still something missing – and that something is a somebody called Ivy McFarlane.

Ivy used to work with Zac but then spread her wings and moved to Glastonbury. He’s missed her ever since. Now it’s almost Christmas and Zac realises that the Ivy shaped hole in his life is too big to bear. So starts his festive mission to the mainland – but will he be back in time to spend Christmas in Skye? And, more importantly, will Ivy be with him?

You can buy this one HERE




You can follow Kirsty on Twitter @kirsty_ferry

 


If you are are looking for one more Choc-lit festive read and haven't treated yourself to Marie Laval's 2019 book Bluebell's Christmas Magic yet - that one is now out in paperback too. HERE

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Christmas Guests - Part Two

 

Well, Helen and Ella did a good job last week helping to convince me that I don't really hate Christmas. I've got as far as getting a tree. Not a fir tree, but I'm sure it will look good when it gets a few baubles on it! Today's tea from the calendar is Frosted Fruit - very nice, but my favourite this week has been Ruby Amaretto. I love the taste of almonds.  Today's chocolate is a penguin! 

This week Angela Britnell and Berni Stevens are the ones convincing me about the joys of the festive season. Angela actually has two book out this Christmas, the paperback version of Christmas at Little Penhaven and the brand new e-book and paperback A Cornish Christmas at Pear Tree Farm. 

Welcome Angela 

Don’t worry, Evonne I’m not going to try to convince you about the merits of everything Christmas because that would be hypocritical of me! I can’t stand hearing ‘White Christmas’ and ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ in the shops from October onwards and never watch syrupy Christmas films. My Christmas books usually get sent back by my editor the first time around with instructions to make it ‘more Christmassy please’. Having said that I do enjoy celebrating the true meaning of the season and the opportunity to be with family and friends. I’ve picked three things that to me sum up the best parts of Christmas and all of them are celebrated in ‘A Cornish Christmas at Pear Tree Farm.’

A CHRISTMAS EVE CAROL SERVICE

Here is an excerpt from the book. It’s Christmas Eve and without giving too much away the service is being held at the farm.


'The vicar took up his place at the front and welcomed everyone to their makeshift gathering before the first notes of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ rang out. Crispin’s deep, rich voice. The pungent smell of the animals. Little children’s excited chatter. The sparkling lights illuminating the barn and reminding her of the star-lit sky on that first Christmas. Everything combined to make Ashley’s eyes sting with happy tears. The brief service flew by and Crispin draped his arm around her shoulders when they stood for the last carol, ‘Silent Night’. A brief hush fell as the song ended then everyone started to talk again.'


The ancient church in the village where I grew up in Cornwall never looks lovelier than on Christmas Eve and here’s a picture of the last time we were there for the service. One picture shows my mother holding her candle and the other is the nativity scene acted by the children.

FAMILY CHRISTMAS DINNER

Like many families we’re scattered around the country and in our case across the Atlantic Ocean too but when we’re able to get together there is nothing more special. It’s particularly meaningful at Christmas. I’d like to share a window into Christmas Day at Pear Tree Farm where Ward is about to propose a toast and he looks back to the previous year.

'Ward stood and tapped his spoon on a glass. ‘Before we eat, I’m gonna tell a quick story. The first time I ate in this room was with Nessa and my folks, I pictured a Christmas tree standing in the corner by the window and all of our families gathered around. I even conjured up a baby in Nessa’s arms with her dark hair and my grey eyes.’

Hearing her brother’s thickening voice made Ashley’s throat tighten with emotion.

‘Today that dream has come true.'

THE GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS

When I was living and working in Denmark back in the early 1980s, where I met my future husband, I’d never heard of the famous German Christmas markets but I was captivated by the first one we went to in Flensburg. The atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experience before highlighted by the wonderful smell of warm gluhwein and fresh pfeffernusse cookies along with the sight of stalls full of hand-crafted ornaments and gifts. Every year when I decorate our Christmas tree I bring out ornaments bought in those special markets and lose myself in happy memories. Here’s a photograph I found of me enjoying some of the German Christmas treats.



In ‘A Cornish Christmas at Pear Tree Farm’ Ashley instigates a Christmas festival full of the Cornish equivalent of the German markets only with Cornish craft gin and mince pies.

'Despite the emptiness in her heart, Ashley smiled at the scene in front of her. For this first day of “Christmas, Cornish Style” the air carried a suitably festive cold bite, the sky was a stunning clear blue and the sun hadn’t stopped shining. With a little over three weeks to go until Christmas, they’d apparently timed it perfectly to pull in the crowds. It’d been non-stop since they opened at ten this morning, and she was about run ragged trying to make sure the food and craft vendors had everything they needed. She’d heard that things were equally busy down at the farm and most of the visitors she’d spoken to were checking out both venues.'

Here's wishing you a peaceful and warm Christmas, Evonne however you choose to celebrate or not!

Aww! Thanks Angela. I do like the elements of a traditional Christmas and it looks like Christmas Markets are popular - Helen mentioned them too, last week.

I must admit I fell for the cover of Berni Stevens  Christmas book Laughing All the Way on the Jingle Bells Express because it has a train on the cover. I have a thing for trains.  As you might guess - Berni's Christmas  is a bit different. 

Decorating the tree is a very special job in our house. Of course, we have a cat who likes to pull the decorations off the tree, and run off with anything from the decorations box that takes her fancy, so it can often take longer than we planned.

Our decorations are not exactly traditional, sparkly of course, just not traditional. Anyone who’s ever been to the US, will have discovered their various Christmas shops (usually open all year round), and it wasn’t long before I started collecting tree ornaments from the various places we visited. Because we always go to the South-West desert areas of the Four Corners region, there are a lot of Native American tree decorations in our collection, and chilli lights too, bought from the Cameron Trading Post in Arizona. We even have a lot of Day of the Dead ornaments, including some very sparkly skulls!

Sam, our son, brought some lovely tree decorations back from a trip to India, and we have quite a few sparkly bats. (As in the mammals not cricket bats!) Most people know of my love for all things Gothic and Dracula-related, and the bats have really multiplied over the years.

In Laughing All the Way, the passengers on the Jingle Bells Express receive Christmas tree decorations in their crackers, although theirs are more traditional than ours. I don’t believe they received any skulls!

I imagine most families have Christmas traditions, I don’t think we have too many, not set in stone anyway. Apart from my, ‘we must have a REAL Christmas tree’ insistence every year. I know they shed needles everywhere ... even when I buy the Nordic blue spruce which isn’t supposed to shed, but we live in a half-timbered cottage, and there is no way an artificial tree would look very good (although they are getting better). But they don’t smell do they? Our house needs to smell like Christmas ...

I like to do table presents for everyone on Christmas Day – just something small, sometimes silly, and often edible – and we always have crackers ... some of these ideas have crept into my book, as you’d expect, but with more than a little Christmas magic added. There are a lot of Christmas trees in the book too – and yes, they’re all real ones.

My parents used to live in a small Sussex village near Pevensey Castle, in whose grounds the annual Boxing Day tug-of-war contest was usually held. The winners got bottles of wine, but the losers got drenched in the river when the champions pulled them in. It was a good incentive to try very hard to win! There are a lot of ghost stories associated with the area, not least because of Pevensey Marshes, which can look creepy even in the day time during the winter, because of the sea mists rolling in. Unsurprisingly, the Marshes get a brief mention in Laughing All the Way too. There’s not the room here to tell any of the ghost stories ... but I’ll just say that my cousin’s dog slipped his leash one dark evening in December during a walk in the Castle grounds. He took off towards home like a bat out of hell, howling all the way (definitely not laughing!) When my cousin got home, she found him cowering under the dining table, shivering from head to paws. She never knew what he’d seen or heard.

Enjoy the wonderful time of Christmas and I wish you all a happy healthy New Year.

Definitely a creepier kind of Christmas.

And I'm definitely thawing, if that is the right word. The traditional elements of Christmas - carols, nativity plays, decorated trees, do have a special magic. Now I'm wondering what Kirsty and Marie will have to to say next week to finish off the job of convincing me. 

The festive reads from Angela and Berni are available as e-books and paperbacks. Both Angela's books take you back to locations we first met in the summer - Little Penhaven and Pear Tree Farm.


Pairing up at Pear Tree Farm in time for Christmas … Pear Tree Farm in Cornwall, owned by the kind-hearted Nessa Vivian, is known for taking in lost souls, and ex-soldier Crispin Davies is certainly one of those. But the once sleepy caravan park is now a thriving business, and far from the peace and quiet Crispin was craving, he soon finds himself roped into helping out with a short-notice Christmas festival, organised by Nessa’s force-of-nature sister, Lowena. But despite Crispin’s initial reluctance, his involvement in the festival serves to throw him together with Ashley Spencer, an American woman and fellow lost soul, who works at the nearby Tregereth House. Could Lowena’s ambitious scheme result in a more hopeful Christmas and New Year for them both – with a few surprises along the way?

You can buy yourself a copy HERE



Wannabe author Jane Solomon is expecting an uneventful Christmas in her Cornish village of Little Penhaven. But then super fit American gym owner Hal Muir comes to town, and suddenly the holiday season looks set to be far more interesting. Hal is keen on embracing every British tradition on offer, from mince pies to Christmas pub quizzes – and perhaps some festive romance too …


The book is available HERE

You can find Angela on Twitter @AngelaBritnell



And if you fancy a Christmas train ride with Berni 


If you received a mysterious invitation for a fun-filled festive train ride the week before Christmas, would you go?

When teacher Dee Nicholls receives her invitation, she isn’t sure what to make of it. Surely it’s some kind of joke to get her out of bed early on a weekend? Perhaps a clever festive marketing ploy?

But as the Christmas countdown begins, it becomes clear that Dee isn’t the only “Jingle Bells Express” invitee. There are other people out there who have received the same invitation: Tom the intern, Rachel the aspiring writer, Dylan the musician and his dog Muttley – and they’re not the only ones!

Could the unusual festive journey they eventually take together show them all the true meaning of Christmas, and also that happiness is sometimes right in front of you – if you just take the time to look?


Buy the book HERE



Berni is on twitter @Berni_Stevens1


See you next week with the last of my Christmas Guests.