Today, I’m releasing the ebook, paperback and audiobook of Cragside into the wild. I loved writing this book, and I want to say that my narrator, Gill Mills, has done an amazing job of bringing the character of Lady Ella Merryweather to life. Thank you.
But, why Cragside?
Cragside is a National Trust property in North Northumberland. During Lockdown, it was one of the places that was allowed to remain open (the grounds were) for locals. What started as a single visit because it was just amazing to go somewhere that wasn’t home, or the walk down the road, became a regular weekly haunt. Every week, just about without fail, and no matter the weather, we walked around the estate, exploring places I’d never seen before. And what an absolute joy it was. Cragside, the house, is majestic, but it’s the estate and all of its wonderful nature that really called to me. It’s not unusual to see a deer on the vast estate, or to watch birds, ducks and even some fish, in their natural environment. And some of the ducks like to have a proper little scrap, which really echoes.
And the more I walked around the estate, the more I started to see possibilities for a new story. The basin tank, dark and brooding, seemed like a perfect place to find a body, and that was just the first of the thoughts I had about a potential new story. And, of course, I also made the decision to set the story in Autumn, because while the spring and summer are beautiful, I’m a huge fan of Autumn colours, and it’s not just because the estate tends to be quieter over the cooler months:)
My main character, Lady Ella Merryweather, developed along with my walks and I enjoyed crafting the story of a woman already suspected of murder trying to prove her innocence in the 1930s.
I hope you’ll enjoy my 1930s murder mystery inspired by my love of Cragside and Agatha Christie novels.
Today, I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Nadine Kampen’s new book, The Brantford Wagers.
From Chapter 3 – Matchmakers
As members of the Vincent family drew near, Lady Melbourne gestured towards several of the pictures, then beckoned Clara. ‘These fellows who are out painting landscapes, do not you think they are just the sort who are entirely devoid of imagination? Look here—all earth and air; and not one maiden, or cherub, or fountain to enliven things.’
‘These particular artists portray nature without embellishment,’ Clara offered. ‘I find it refreshing.’
‘Painters of that ilk are rather like musicians who perform music exactly as written. Have not you noticed it yourself? They play precisely what appears on the score and do not add anything by way of adornment. Advise them to play a trill here and there, and they pretend not to hear you. Recommend a diminuendo and you are completely shunned. Suggest an arpeggio be added to some dull passage and they quit your company entirely. I find these types extremely irksome, the entire set—musicians, artists—all of them.’
Lady Melbourne snapped her fan shut against the palm of her hand. ‘I must say, you are brightly attired this evening, Miss Vincent. It is a timely change. I am so accustomed to seeing you in mourning, I scarcely recognised you. How could you have stood it, these past months, to look so drawn out? Granted, you lost two family members this past winter, but had you been my daughter, I would certainly not have had you wearing bombazine all the time. However, that time is at an end. I see you have done something unusual with your hair this evening.’
‘To charming effect,’ praised Mr Langley, stepping forward. He wanted to speak to Clara once more before they left. With his hand at her elbow, he steered her a short distance away.
‘Since we are both to leave the vicinity soon, Miss Vincent,’ he said, ‘I want to be sure you understand how fortunate I feel that we have finally met and were able to share this time together.’
Clara, wondering if he was about to declare his feelings for her and feeling it was too soon for him to do so, nodded in a friendly manner, observing him.
‘While our time together has ended for now, I can at least look forward to seeing you within a few months.’ He noticed a faint blush coming to Clara’s cheeks, and it pleased him. ‘If I am to find any consolation in this separation,’ he continued, ‘it is in the fact that we are both away at the same time. After I accompany Lady Melbourne to Bath, I am wanted elsewhere on pressing business. I will be tied up with important matters for the near future. My Aunt and I will reunite in late fall, after which I will take her to whatever destinations she wishes. We plan to return to Wells by Christmas.’ Mr Langley felt annoyed at having to mould his affairs to fit the whims and interests of his aunt, but he shook off his irritation.
‘I particularly hope, when I return,’ he said earnestly, picking up her hand and turning it over in his, ‘to have the pleasure of renewing our acquaintance, and discussing the future.’
Clara remained still for a moment, then discreetly removed her hand in a natural manner. She was not inclined to discourage Mr Langley, as she had so many others. She liked him well enough to this point, and was glad they had met, but neither would she encourage him. Cautious by nature, she would not commit beyond what short acquaintance dictated. She nodded, replying that she would, of course, be pleased to see him again in a few months’ time.
‘This would be a fortunate match, Mr Vincent,’ observed Lady Melbourne. She would have been pleased to know how close her thinking on this point matched his. She had long hoped to unite their families, albeit not until recently in this particular fashion. She had not relinquished all thought of remarrying, and she had placed her hopes on Mr Vincent. With regard to this younger pair, having met at last, there appeared to be interest on both sides.
‘I had not realised, Mr Vincent, that your daughter is such an accomplished hostess. I should not have thought to light up the garden as she has done and create such an attractive scene. As for today’s entertainment, I daresay the illuminations in London were grand but so, too, were this evening’s displays. And thank you for putting out the fire on my hat,’ she said, unfurling her fan and brushing it playfully across his shoulder. ‘I must confess, while I can bear a few sparks flying about, I am grateful you did not bombard us with squibs and strike us dead where we stood.’
‘Fine host I should have been then,’ said Mr Vincent solemnly.
Lady Melbourne smiled and came back to her point. ‘You cannot keep her here forever. My home, at least, is not far away.’
‘True,’ he replied.
‘Well, good night, then, Mr Vincent.’
‘Wait, madam, if you please.’ One of the servants brought in a large package for Lady Melbourne. ‘It is a token of appreciation for the hospitality shown my daughter during my travels. My man will load it on the carriage for you.’
‘Why, Mr Vincent,’ she said, her deep voice wavering, ‘thank you so much.’
As the heavy front doors swung shut behind the last of their visitors, the family members made their way to the drawing-room, losing Mariette’s husband to his quarters along the way.
William Vincent relished the opportunity to speak to his daughters alone. There were important matters that he wanted to raise. On entering the room, he perched himself on a broad chair near the fire and surveyed his daughters. The sisters were alike in some respects, but they differed in countless ways. In appearance, Clara, the taller of the two, preferred simple lines to her clothing; Mariette liked frills. Clara saved money; Mariette spent it. Clara planned; Mariette enjoyed spontaneity. Clara enjoyed reading and was often lost in her own thoughts; Mariette was the livelier of the two.
Here’s the blurb:
Is Clara Vincent ready to risk it all for love?
Clara Vincent is “the artful dodger” when it comes to marriage, especially when her father is bent on match-making. Will her attitude change when she meets two eligible suitors and is drawn into the lives of intensely competitive families? Clara falls unexpectedly in love, but when fortunes are reversed and relationships up-ended, she needs to decide whether to trust James Brantford, who is seeking retribution, or accept the love of the man everyone else believes is her ideal match.
As the Brantford wagers unfold and lay bare the history of past relationships, will Clara be able to learn the truth and finally follow her heart?
In her début novel, The Brantford Wagers, Nadine Kampen draws on her passion for stories that bring a smile and warm the hearts of the reader. The author immerses the reader in the fictional world of traditional historical romance, set in the memorable Regency England period, sharing the hopes, schemes, and antics of her characters.
Prior to her career as an author, Nadine served as a regional marketing manager with an international consulting firm and as a communications and marketing director on university campuses. Earlier in her career, she worked in public relations and journalism, and was co-author and project lead for five non-fiction books comprising The Canadian Breast Cancer Series, published in 1989.
A resident of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, Nadine loves relaxing with family and friends, reading and walking, playing tunes on her 1905 Bell piano, and gardening.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome HS Burney to the blog, with a post about the inspiration for her new novel, The Lake Templeton Murders.
The Lake Templeton Murders is set in a fictional town in Vancouver Island in British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada. An idyllic oasis of only five thousand people, Lake Templeton is an undeveloped gem craving to be a tourist paradise. It’s not as accessible as neighbouring towns and doesn’t have the same infrastructure, hotels, and tourist attractions. But it boasts a lot of ocean-facing vacation homes. There is also a small knot of locals. Lake Templeton is a great place to hide when you’re weary of city life. Or looking to hide away from your past.
Because of its pristine natural beauty, Lake Templeton is a place that is ripe for development. It’s the object of an ambitious revitalization project intended to turn it into a tourist mecca. The murder happens just as the town is hanging on the precipice of this change. Funds are being raised. The future looks bright. But for now, Lake Templeton is still a forgotten little beachy watering hole, that only has one private airline operating out of it, run by a mysterious lone owner-operator.
In a town like Lake Templeton, a murder is a rarity. It creates ripples of shock. It endangers gossip. And questions. Lots of them. That’s one of the reasons why so many are keen to write off the suspicious death as an accident or a suicide. After all, who would want to hurt Sharon Reese? She was just an unassuming City Treasurer, living a mild life in a small town.
Like with many seemingly banal small towns, at Lake Templeton, there is a lot simmering under the surface. The town contains a small Mayor’s office, but it’s rife with political intrigue. The mayor is an enigmatic young woman who seems misplaced in a town of this nature. Why would she choose to settle here instead of pursuing bigger political ambitions in Vancouver?
When writing The Lake Templeton Murders, my setting was inspired by British Columbia, a place I am lucky to call home. Although I live in a big city, I’ve spent many enjoyable days tracking through the small coastal towns of British Columbia. Pristine waterfront, miles of ocean, sparkling blue skies, and a panorama of mountains – this is what makes British Columbia such an attractive place to live and visit.
When I’m driving through these small towns many of which boast a single grocery store, a modest town square, maybe a lone medical clinic or two, I often wonder – what type of people live here? What are their lives like? Why do they choose to live here? Lake Templeton is inspired by these real and imagined stories.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of traveling to Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. We arrived there to find that restaurants followed no set opening and closing schedule. It depended on the whims of the owner – and the number of guests they had that day. The lone breakfast spot was run by a single owner-operator who fried our eggs herself. This is what I envisioned when I conceived of Lake Templeton.
Thank you so much for sharing on the blog. Good luck with the book:)
Here’s the blurb:
A body washes up on the shores of Lake Templeton, a small town on the coast of Vancouver Island. Sharon Reese, the victim, was a dedicated government employee. Everyone liked her, but no one knew much about her. Was she hiding something? Maybe a questionable past riddled with scandal. And did it lead to her plunge to death, in a drunken stupor, off the dock outside her secluded lakefront lodge?
Was it an accident? A suicide? Or cold-blooded murder? Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, is determined to find out.
Fati arrives in Lake Templeton to find secrets that run as deep as the City’s sewers. Everyone is hiding something and nothing is as it seems. A cult escapee. A corrupt politician. A struggling airline. A multi-million dollar public-private project to revitalize the Lake Templeton waterfront. How are they all connected?
As Fati valiantly unravels the knots, another body is found on the shore. Is it the same killer? And can Fati stop them before they strike again?
HS Burney writes fast-moving, action-packed mysteries set against the backdrop of majestic mountains and crystalline ocean in West Coast Canada. She loves creating characters that keep you on your toes. A corporate executive by day and a novelist by night, HS Burney received her Bachelors’ in Creative Writing from Lafayette College. A proud Canadian immigrant, she takes her readers into worlds populated by diverse characters with unique cultural backgrounds. When not writing, she is out hiking, waiting for the next story idea to strike, and pull her into a new world.
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I’m delighted to welcome back Andrea Matthews to the blog with a post about her new book, Shake Loose the Border. Find the previous blog posts here and here.
Maggie blinked as dawn broke that Saturday morning. She had survived the harrowing experience of the previous Thursday night and the tiring prenuptial feast of the night before and now looked forward to the start of a wonderful life with her new husband. He would always be there, guarding her, protecting her, but she had discovered an inner strength in herself as well.
Today, however, was her wedding day, and Will’s sisters fussed around her like she was a fairy-tale princess. In fact, when they had finished, she was. Her long auburn hair fell down her back in gentle waves. Just as on the day of her handfast, braids had been plaited at her temples, woven with ribbons, and pulled back and tied at the nape of her neck. On her head was a floral crown of wildflowers, bound together with rosemary and ribbons of blue and green to represent both their families. They matched the swathbonds that encircled her waist and the bridal laces that hung from her satin sleeves. A number of ribbon garters were tied to her legs, and they too were the colors of choice. But the gown itself was of the deepest blue, decorated with small beads and delicate lace trim. The square neckline revealed only the slightest bit of her chemise so that her neck lay bare, except for the small string of ivory roses given to her by Will at their handfast, and her kirtle was of silver damask.
Mary wore a dress of pale blue while Eleanor and little Peggy donned gowns of forest green, in keeping with Maggie’s colors. But Annie wore Betty’s wedding dress, which was the same beautiful shade of rose that colored Maggie’s nosegay and adorned her hair. The same soft shade that had filled her cheeks after Will first made love to her and would no doubt touch them anew when next they met.
Annie smiled broadly as she tied the last ribbon to Maggie’s dress. “There! A more bonnie bride they’ve never seen in all of Tynedale, and to think ’tis to be wasted on that nae-account brother of mine.”
“You don’t mean a word of that,” Maggie said with a grin, for it was no secret how close Annie and Will really were.
“Ye’re right there. If ’twere no’ for our Will . . . ’Twas him what found me that morn, ye ken. I didna want him to touch me, I was that ashamed, but Will never gave up, talking to me, bringing me flowers, telling me how bonnie I looked, liar though he was. I never would have made it without him. When yer kin carried him off, nowt what happened to me seemed all that important anymore.”
Maggie rested her hand on Annie’s. “Don’t ever let what Ian did to you make you think poorly of yourself. Turn it against him by letting it make you stronger.”
“I am trying, though ’tis hard at times.”
“You’re going to wear this dress someday soon, Annie.”
“I hope so, though I’m no’ sure who ’twill be . . .” She looked around, making sure no one else was listening, though Maggie was fairly sure what she was about to say and equally certain it was common knowledge. “I do care a great deal for Dylan Hetherington, but I’m afeard I’m no’ alone there.”
Maggie tried to conceal her smile, wondering if Dylan would ever confide his twentieth-century origins to the girl. “And have you spoken to him about it?”
“A wee bit, and he says his heart belongs to none but me, yet he’s made nae promises either. I can hope, though, d’ye no’ think?”
“I just don’t want you to be hurt if . . . Annie, I love Dylan dearly, and I do think he’s a good soul, one who can give a great deal of love. But he is still searching for something, and he is a bit of a . . .”
“A rogue. Oh, I ken that right enough, but how’s a lass to win him if she’s afeard of rising to the fray? I’ll be all right, Maggie, for if he takes a liking to someone else, ’tis his loss, no’ mine.”
Maggie smiled and hugged Annie warmly. The morning sun was just beginning to peek over the windowsill, and she could hear the sounds of preparation going on below. Biting her lip, she took a peek outside. Will was already there, and she listened intently to the sound of his voice. How she wanted to join him, but it wasn’t yet time, so she contented herself with gazing out across the dew-covered fells dreaming of the night to come.
Here’s the blurb:
With Will and Maggie’s wedding just a week away, the last thing they need to stumble upon is Johnnie Hetherington’s dead body tied to a tree, especially one that’s so close to their cottage. Recognizing it as a sure sign that Johnnie has betrayed the family once too often, Sergeant Richie Carnaby gathers Will and his family together for questioning, though it seems obvious only a fool would kill a man on his own land. Then who did murder the rogue, and why?
Feeling confident it wasn’t any of the Fosters, Richie allows Will and Maggie’s wedding to proceed, but the couple has barely exchanged vows when the Armstrongs attack in force. Geordie is determined to rescue his niece from the clutches of Will Foster, whether she wants to go or not. And if he happens to make her a widow in the process, so be it. Will senses the danger and implores Dylan to get Maggie away to safety, no matter where — or when — that may be.
Though Maggie protests, Will assures her he will follow as soon as he is able. Yet how can that be possible when Dylan whisks her back to the twentieth century? Sharing her fears about Will, and unable to forget his own love, Annie, Dylan attempts to return to the past one last time despite his growing concerns over the disintegrating amulet stone. But will he make it in time to rescue Will, or will the villainous Ian Rutherford, who has already killed in cold blood once, win the ultimate battle and see Will and Maggie separated forever?
Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science, and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. She is the author of the Thunder on the Moor series set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Border, and the Cross of Ciaran series, where a fifteen hundred year old Celt finds himself in the twentieth century. Andrea is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Long Island Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society.
Today, I’m sharing not one, but two excerpts from Jenny Knipfer’s new book, Under the Weeping Willow.
She couldn’t figure out why Susan always maintained such a hard front, like nothing could ever break her. Everyone had their breaking points. At least that’s what Dad used to say.
Her father’s words floated to Robin as if on the wind. “It’s how the Lord’s Light can enter, so having breaking points and cracks can be a good thing. You just have to know how to surrender those faults to the One who can bring a purpose to them.”
As I look toward this new year, I’m tempted to be afraid. I am walking into another blackhole. But I know whatever comes, the Lord will be by my side just as He was back then in that dark pit of my thoughts. No matter how deep the canyon of forgetfulness is that I will fall into, He is deeper still.
Here’s the blurb:
A HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER AND THE SECRET SHAPING THEIR ROCKY RELATIONSHIP
Just as Robin Holcomb settles into married life with her husband, Willis, on his aunt and uncle’s farm in Wisconsin, WWI calls Willis away. With an unknown future and a child on the way, Robin makes the best of life among people she barely knows.
After the birth of her child, Robin struggles with depression and battles to overcome her inner demons before despair and hopelessness drive her to attempt to take her own life. Will Robin survive her dive into postpartum depression, let alone see Willis again?
Enid Fenton clears out her Mother’s house and puts the family farm up for sale, trying to not be consumed by guilt for installing her mother into the county nursing home.
Reading through some of her mother’s diary entries, Enid uncovers a secret that helps her make sense of the unnamed point of division that has always soured their relationship.
Can Enid reconcile with her mother before the ravages of Alzheimer’s claim her?
Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction will be moved as this novel takes them from the depths of a person’s psyche and grief to the pinnacle of long-hoped-for peace.
“Knipfer has created a story that crosses many genres and will appeal to those who love poignant epics about complex characters, engrossing plots, relatable situations, and a satisfying ending.” Tammy Ruggles for Readers’ Favorite, five-star review
“A sensitive and well-crafted drama unpacking issues of mental health, layers of grief, societal expectations, and the instability of memory, this novel is touching on the surface, but subtly and profoundly layered with meaning.” Self-Publishing Review ★★★★★
“A heart-rending, emotionally packed love story between a mother and daughter, Under the Weeping Willow is a journey of loss and brokenness coupled with forgiveness and healing. This time-split novel captured my heart and didn’t release it until the final page. Beautiful and haunting, Robin and Enid’s story swept me to another era. These characters lived, and I loved watching them find their way to each other. Keep the tissues handy. You don’t want to miss this story!” ~Candace West, Selah award finalist and author of the Valley Creek Redemption series
Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.
Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.
All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.
Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.
She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.
Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons.
Keep current with Jenny by visiting her website at https://jennyknipfer.com. Ways to connect with Jenny via social media, newsletter, and various book sites can be found on her website.
I’m excited to share an excerpt from Heidi Eljarbo’s new historical mystery. Enjoy.
The pendulum on the grandfather clock next to the grand piano swung rhythmically back and forth, back and forth. The hour hand was approaching two. She should leave. The lawyer had asked her to stop by his office before she left town, and the train ride home would take three quarters of an hour.
What was she to do? Lilly leaned back into the soft pillows. Was it all true? Had she inherited a fortune, and could she picture herself living here? What about Father? She’d moved into her own place a while back, but would he insist on living at Rosenli with her? His daily pessimistic outbursts and derogatory comments had taken their toll on her, but what would her father say if she moved away? Who would calm him when his temper steered his mood? Maybe more than anything, was she capable of taking care of Aunt Agatha’s estate?
She stopped by the casket one last time then grabbed her handbag and walked into the hallway.
The butler stood by the wardrobe as she came out. It was as if he expected her.
“Mr. Bing, I need a word with you.”
“You may call me John, miss. Now that we’ll be seeing more of each other, you should know we go by first names in this house. Agatha insisted on it.”
“Very well. Then I would like you to call me Lilly.” She showed him the photograph. “Please tell me about this man. Who is he?”
John smiled. “Oh, so you found the picture. Good. Agatha placed it there for you to find. She had much to tell you, and now it’s up to you to discover what. Find her story, and you’ll understand who that man is.”
Lilly widened her eyes. “That sounds intriguing, but I must warn you; I’m usually not very patient. At least show me where to look?”
“You’ll understand. Just follow your heart.”
John handed her a miniature box tied with a red silk ribbon. “She wanted you to have this.”
Lilly gingerly unfastened the ribbon and opened the lid. Inside was a small silver amulet. She picked it up. Half a heart. She lifted her gaze to John, but he said nothing. The old man stood there with a stoic but friendly look on his face.
“What does this mean, John? How can I follow my heart if I only have half of it?”
The butler smiled but didn’t answer her question. He didn’t even ask her if she planned to move in. Lilly narrowed her brow, confused at such limited information. She’d grown used to working with numbers, patterns, and orderly schedules. How did one learn something new by merely listening to their heart? She pulled her shoulders back. “I will try, John, but I hope for some help along the way. I truly want to understand who Agatha was. Even if it might seem late now that she has passed, I’d like to become acquainted with her.”
John touched her shoulder. “That’s the spirit.”
Here’s the blurb:
Betrayal and trust go hand in hand in the first book of Heidi Eljarbo’s new turn-of-the-century series.
It’s 1898, and Lilly has spent most of her life motherless and living with a father who never looks for a silver lining. When her great-aunt Agatha passes, Lilly’s existence takes a drastic turn. She packs her few belongings and moves into the old lady’s magnificent estate, Rosenli Manor.
In the days that follow, Lilly tries to understand who Agatha really was, and hidden secrets slowly rise to the surface. Her great-aunt’s glamorous legacy is not quite what Lilly had imagined. She must trust in newly forged friendships, and to her surprise, she discovers what it means to truly fall in love. But not everyone is happy about the new mistress of Rosenli.
Intrigue, mystery, and a touch of romance in the Norwegian countryside fill the pages of Secrets of Rosenli Manor.
Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don’t want to go near.
Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.
After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.
Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.
Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.
Ulf is like a storm, slowly building up its power, he grows more dangerous with each passing moment. And like all storms, he will eventually break. When he does, he will destroy everything in his path.
Ulf is one of a long line of famous Norse warriors. His ancestor Tyr was no ordinary man, but the Norse God of War. Ulf, however, knows nothing about being a warrior.
Everything changes when a stranger arrives on Ulf’s small farm in Vikenfjord. The only family he’s ever known are slaughtered and the one reminder of his father is stolen — Ulf’s father’s sword, Ormstunga. Ulf’s destiny is decided.
Are the gods punishing him? All Ulf knows is that he has to avenge his family. He sets off on an adventure that will take him across oceans, into the eye of danger, on a quest to reclaim his family’s honour.
The gods are roused. One warrior can answer to them.The Son of Anger.
Even as a young child, Donovan loved reading stories about Vikings and other medieval warriors fighting to defend their homeland or raiding in distant lands. He would often be found running around outside with nothing other than a wooden sword and his imagination.
Now older, he spends his time writing about them. His novels come from his fascination with the Viking world and Norse Mythology and he hopes that you will enjoy exploring this world as much as he did writing about it.
Born in South Africa but raised in England, Donovan currently works as an English tutor and when he is not teaching or writing, he can be found reading, watching rugby, or working on DIY projects. Being born in South Africa, he is a massive Springboks fan and never misses a match.
Murder comes to Norfolk Island, but is the killer after Alexandra Archer’s Tahitian black pearl or a lost illustration of the rare Green Parrot?
The Thorntons, along with a small team of people, mount an expedition to Norfolk Island, a small island in the South Pacific, to study the Green Parrot and set up research programmes to help protect it and other endangered birds.
As a birthday surprise, Alexandra’s father tells her she is to be the official photographer for the expedition. Her father gives her a black pearl brooch that Alexandra’s great-grandfather had bought off a merchant in Hong Kong in the 1850s. The pearls are Tahitian black pearls.
Before they depart Melbourne, they learn that Norfolk Island has had its first murder. It sends ripples of unease through Alexandra. She hoped she could escape murder on this small island paradise.
Alexandra is astonished to learn that the main inhabitants of Norfolk Island are descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Once on the island, she wonders if this is why her Tahitian black pearl brooch causes such interest.
A chain of events is set in motion, commencing with a threat on the life of one of their expedition members, followed by intrigue surrounding bird smuggling and a lost illustration of the Green Parrot. Then two of their team are murdered.
Alexandra is determined to find the answers and nearly loses her life in the process.
Ellen Read is the author of The Dragon Sleeps, The Inca’s Curse and The Amber Trap—historical murder mystery romance novels.
Ellen was born in Queensland, Australia.
She loves to read fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She particularly loves history and stories of ancient myths and legends. Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Victoria Holt, the latter of whom wrote gothic mystery/romances, have influenced her own work.
Other interests include photography, painting, music and musical theatre, and dance. Ellen was a ballroom dancing teacher for many years and has also worked in Performing Arts administration.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Tony Bassett, author of Murder on Oxford Lane, to the blog with a post about the inspiration for his book.
Much of the inspiration for my books comes from the wide variety of experiences I’ve had as a journalist.
I worked for local newspapers for six years and then spent 37 years in Fleet Street, mainly working for the Sunday People newspaper.
I’ve seen so many different aspects of life. I was once smuggled into judge’s chambers at the Old Bailey to test their security. I pursued Margaret Thatcher round Epsom during a by-election. I was present in hospital when Diana Dors’ husband Alan Lake announced to the world she had died.
I got Mandy Smith’s sister in Highgate to reveal to me details of Mandy’s plans to wed Rolling Stone Bill Wyman. I’ve been to armed sieges, celebrity weddings, and was in a magistrates’ court in West London when a Welshman took to the dock in a dazzling dragon costume. I’ve watched a group of students at Middlesex University being hypnotised by a dog and taken a fugitive gangster back to jail. So you could say I’ve seen a bit of life.
I have been able to use some of this knowledge to help with my writing.
I’ll give an example. In Chapter 22 of Murder On Oxford Lane, the wife of the missing property tycoon is reluctant to attend a press conference and walks out halfway through. This is based partly on a real-life experience I had one Saturday while working for the Sunday People.
I was despatched to a police press conference about a murdered man. His widow was reluctant to attend and walked out during the briefing. Afterwards the chief inspector spoke to me and another journalist, explaining: ‘You don’t realise how terrifying it can be for someone in this situation, being faced with a group of journalists in public like this.’ A short time after the press conference, the widow was charged in connection with her husband’s murder.
Another example comes earlier in the book. In Chapter 19, when Sunita Roy is trying to trace Harry Bowers’ cleaner, Tessa. A female neighbour reveals Tessa has moved house. Sunita questions the neighbour thoroughly. Eventually the neighbour recalls that Tessa’s removal van was purple. As a result, Sunita is able to locate the removal firm and collect the new address from them. This was an initiative that a photographer and I once used to track down someone’s address.
A third example of how I have occasionally used journalistic experiences to add colour to the book comes towards the end of the novel when detectives examine suspects’ clothing. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who has not read the book. Suffice to say the idea for this came to me years ago while I was covering an assault case at Cardiff Crown Court.
Of course, these kind of memories and past experiences are useful, but I also have to do some extensive research for my books as well. Much of this can be done online. For instance, I found a vast treasure store of articles on the internet about the effects of long-term immersion in water on drowning victims.
Information about personal injuries, hospital recovery times, martial arts moves, church procedures, police interviews and so on are all available at the click of a mouse.
But there are also occasions when it’s necessary to make phone calls. For instance, to speak to police about how particular incidents are dealt with. To speak to farming organisations about farming methods. Or to speak to fire brigade staff about the minutiae of how a particular fire might be tackled. Occasionally, authors also have to make visits to organisations or places to add to their supply of information.
I know fiction writing is based on imagination. But, like non-fiction writers, novelists still need to ensure their work is firmly grounded in reality. The author needs to be able to walk in the shoes of his or her characters. And the plot needs to be credible.
Thank you so much for sharing. Good luck with your new book.
Here’s the blurb:
The peace of a Midlands village is upset when local businessman Harry Bowers doesn’t return from choir practice. More concerned than the man’s own wife, it would seem, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Sunita Roy becomes convinced he has met a sinister end. There is no trace of the man – just a litany of evidence of an ailing marriage and a nose-diving business venture. In charge of her first serious case, DS Roy will struggle to win the respect of her colleagues – in particular, her Brummie boss, DCI Gavin Roscoe. All that whilst fighting off the attentions of an increasingly desperate suitor.
Who had it in for the chorister? And is Roy tough enough to break down the defences and prejudices of Middle England? MURDER ON OXFORD LANE is the first book in a series of crime fiction titles by Tony Bassett.
Tony Bassett, a former Fleet Street journalist, has written a gripping series of crime novels set in the Midlands.
The first book in the series is called Murder on Oxford Lane. Published by The Book Folks, it concerns the disappearance of a property tycoon from a sleepy Warwickshire village.
Middle-aged DCI Gavin Roscoe and his relatively inexperienced sergeant, DS Sunita Roy, are confronted by suspicious deaths as they struggle to uncover what has happened to the businessman.
The second book in this Midlands crime series, The Crossbow Stalker, will be released shortly.
Tony decided to set this string of novels in Warwickshire and Worcestershire after spending many happy years working as a newspaper reporter in Worcester.
He first developed a love of writing at the age of nine when he and a friend produced a magazine called the Globe at their junior school in Sevenoaks, Kent.
At Hull University, Tony was named student journalist of the year in 1971 in a competition run by Time-Life magazine and went onto become a national newspaper journalist, mainly working for the Sunday People in both its newsroom and investigations department.
His very first book to be published, the crime novel Smile Of The Stowaway, was released in December 2018. It concerns a Kent couple who harbour a stowaway and then battle to clear his name when he is charged with murder.
Then, in March 2020, the spy novel The Lazarus Charter, was released. It involves foreign agents operating in the UK. The book has kindly been endorsed by Marina Litvinenko, widow of the murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, and by Stan and Caroline Sturgess, parents of the innocent mother-of-three poisoned with novichok in Salisbury in 2018.
Tony, who has written at least four other novels which are as yet unpublished, has five grown-up children. He is a Life Member of the National Union of Journalists. He lives in South-East London with his partner Lin.
Back to face the darkness at the heart of Cornwall.
In the search for her sister, Willow will face deception and betrayal, before she’ll find love – and herself. But will she uncover how close the enemy is, or will she become another victim of the Badlands?
Gary Kruse is a multi-genre writer of flash fiction, short stories and novels. He lives with his family in Hornchurch on the Essex/London border.
He began writing as a teenager after seeing the Craft in the cinema and wondering what would happen if the coven of witches from the Craft came face to face with the Lost Boys (the vampires, not Peter Pan’s crew!).
His work has appeared online and in print anthologies and his short story “Mirror Mirror” was shortlisted in the WriteHive 2021 Horror competition, and subsequently featured in the “Duplicitous” anthology.
His short story “Hope in the Dark” won first place in the November 2021 edition of the Writers’ Forum Short Story competition.
His debut novel “Badlands” is published through Darkstroke on 21st January 2022.