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Amanda Cadabra Book 6 paperback and Book2 on ereader leaning on Cornish rock. Text Your now on Amazon. Sticker on Book 2: Free to download from Amazon 20 and 21 Feb

New Cozy Paperback Launch and Free Book Day

Dear Readers,

How We’re Celebrating?

The next stage of the launch of Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr has arrived. To celebrate this joyful event of the paperback release, we are having a free book day.

This time new readers can join the series with Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, free to download from Amazon. Or, if you downloaded Book 1 in the free deal weekend a couple weeks ago, this is an opportunity to continue the Amanda Cadabra journey with Book 2 at zero cost. This offer is just for today and tomorrow, 20th and 21st February, so please do get it while it’s hot.

Here, for your entertainment, is a 15-second video to give the new book a send-off.

Red firework. Text: Celebrating. This is the link image to Youtube launch vido for paperback release of Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlow with free day for Book 2 in the series

Next stage?

Surely this is the final stage in the new sequel release? I hear you ask. Well, actually, there’s more. I’ll come back to that in the next letter. 

Meanwhile, this is for all you fellow paperback readers. I hope you enjoy the new sequel. If you’d like to let me know how you get on with it, I would love to hear from you. Always.

Happy reading,

Holly


PS If you want to start the series now:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Medical atters in cozy mysteryCuddly toy dog wearing toy stethoscope beside book with real stethoscope on it

Medical Matters in Cozy Mystery – Do they have a place?

Dear Readers,

What is something so grim as illness doing in a light, comfortable mystery? Let me tell you a story.

Back in the day, I went on a first date. It was with a Welshman, in a beautiful spot on the river Thames: Maidenhead. The restaurant was right by the water, blue from the sky from where the sun was shining. It was a golden day, and I was hopeful of passing an enjoyable lunchtime.

And then …

My date began to discourse. He gleefully related anecdote after anecdote of disease and resulting fatality.Cartoon of smiley grim reaper in countryside
‘There was this man, you see?’ the Welshman continued with relish. ‘It was in the papers. Twenty-five he was and fit as a fiddle, so he thought. An athlete. And then. One day. He dropped dead. Stone dead.’
‘Really?’ I asked curiously.
‘Tuberculosis! Didn’t know he had it. Well, doesn’t that just go to show? You never know.’
I repeatedly tried to turn to the conversation to happier themes, but with determination, he wrenched it back. Finally, realising what I was trying to do, he explained,
‘I like a bit of death.’

As you can imagine, I excused myself as soon as possible, and we did not have a second encounter. But what is the point of my sharing that with you?

It’s that the story is amusing. It has likely made you smile, even laugh. It has lifted your mood, even though it includes sickness and mortality. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that medical matters can have a place in light literature.

First edition cover of A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie. Text and yello and turquoise palm frondsseHealth Issues in the Great Cozies

Let’s look at one of the novels Daphne du Maurier, who has been listed as a cozy mystery author. In Rebecca, it is a health condition that is the key to unlocking the puzzle of ‘what happened that night?’ There are no disturbing medical details. They would be extraneous to the plot and the genre. We are simply informed of the illness.

In The Pale Horse, Agatha Christie uses disability to throw us off the scent. Miss Marple’s recovery from illness takes us to warmer climbs where she might convalesce in A Caribbean Mystery.

PotionsLittle botte of purple liquid marked poison, on wooden table in the sunshine

A popular device in whodunnits is the victim’s medication, being used as a vehicle for murder most foul: an overdose or substituted with a dangerous substance or with something harmless but depriving the patient of necessary medicine. What is crucial is the treatment, if you’ll excuse the pun, of the illness. That is, no graphic details, just as a cozy murder takes place usually off-camera.

Why Asthma for Amanda?

So we come to medical matters in the Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mystery series. I have been asked why I gave our heroine debilitating asthma. Doesn’t that make her weak? Physically, yes, she is below par. However, that is the very reason why she needs the indispensable component of the genre, magic. She also relies on her familiar, who is, in a sense, her seeing-eye cat.

The origin of Amanda’s asthma provides a vital part of the overall story arc of the series. It also gives her a reason to be at the clinic constructed during Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets. It creates balance with Inspector Trelawney. He surpasses her in fitness, but she has the greater, and vitally important, mystical abilities.

A Bit Special

When I researched the format, the formula for a cozy paranormal mystery, I knew that I wanted mine to be a bit different. Amanda’s physical limitations give her the opportunity to develop and demonstrate other kinds of strength. On the other hand, at the same time, it makes her grandparents and fellow villagers disarmingly protective regardless of however provoking their quirks might be!

A medical condition sees the dispatch of one of the less likeable characters. It also influences Granny and Grandpa’s decision as to which level of existence they choose and when.

So, I hope you’re satisfied with the place of medical matters in the cozy context. Even fatalities, the very heart of a whodunit. Perhaps, after all, you’ll say as regards your taste in literature,
‘I like a bit of death!’

Latest

Meanwhile, I am now 30,000 words into Amanda Cadabra Book 5, with 15 chapters complete and pretty much finalised.

Back next time with more musings for your entertainment.

Happy reading,

Holly


PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon, Apple Books,
Kobo and others.

First 1000 Words - gold text 1000 on big curling wave

The First 1000 Words – How?

Dear Readers,

How?

I have just written the first thousand words of Amanda Cadabra Book 5. This is the right moment to answer the question, what does it feel like to do that? What is the creative process? Did I force myself to sit at a desk and commit to writing a certain number of words in an afternoon? Some great works of fiction have been created using such discipline. However, in my case, this is how it happened ….

Where to start?

It’s been a few weeks since I finished the fourth in the Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mysteries series. So4 Amanda Cadabra Books and hands weaving after a plot map – a rough one then a tidier one, both in a big sketchbook – the first step was to reconnect with the last book, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley. Next, I checked where we’d got to in the story arc, what our characters know, and what has been shared with you, dear readers.

I like to weave the strands of the self-contained story of each book in and out of one another, together with the over-arching plot that runs through the whole series. Consequently, I made notes on the plot sketch of what needs to interspersed.

Researching the Real World

Each book includes settings and details that are new to me. For example, for Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, I had to research spies, bombs and air-raids. For Book 3, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan it was how they celebrated the end of the first world war that Christmas, structural damage, and 1930’s firearms.

For this sequel, I followed my nose in and out of research on Wikipedia and other internet sites. And then I knew. The first chapter suddenly was obvious to me. I had the document open with the first few lines. I pulled it up from under my browser windows, and my fingers began to type. The lines came quickly with no time for spelling or grammar checks. Out it flowed as though I were taking dictation from my own mind.

Floating

Soon I am between two worlds: this one and the world of Amanda Cadabra. As I type, I move more and morewriting fantasy first 1000 words laptop, Amanda Cadabra, map of Sunken Madley, village into that fantasy existence … My eyes are on the screen, my fingers tapping on the keyboard, but before my eyes is … the sitting room at 26 Orchard Row, in the English village of Sunken Madley. I am seated on the chintz sofa of the Cadabra’s house beside Granny – Senara Cadabra. Before me on the coffee table is a cup of tea in a white, delicately floral patterned, Wedgwood china cup. I see Amanda handing Inspector Trelawney a matching dish of shortcake. I can see the plate. I know the design, the gilded edges …. I know how the room smells, how each person smiles, the exact colour of their eyes, the timbre, intonation of each voice … It is as though I hear them speak rather than give them their lines. They give me theirs.

Three hours later, and I’m back. I’m hungry, thirsty, stiff, and the room is stuffy. How do I get back into my body and the real world? How else … with a cup of tea!

World-building

And that, for the most part, is how all of every book comes to me. In between, I have to do a great deal of checking and learning. Yet somehow I remain in the fantasy zone as I come and go between fiction and non-fiction. Any fact at all of which I am not certain must be verified. That is part of world-building, or perhaps it is simply what allows me to perceive that other world.

What does it mean?

Some theorise that when an author writes fiction in this way, they are seeing a reality that exists somewhere on some plane or other – an alternative reality, another universe. Others say that we are creating a reality that then somehow, somewhere comes into being.

In my case, all I can say is that it seems real to me when I am immersed in the creative experience. That is whatAlice and the rabbit hole enables me to make it real to you, so that you might have that door at the back of the wardrobe, the way through the looking-glass, the ticket for The Hogwarts Express, down the rabbit hole, the leap into the chalk drawing.

So when I finish a book and load it onto Amazon, what I am really saying is,’ Come with me … let me share with you … let me show you this other place of mystery, magic, people to know, love, relate to, suspect. This cozy place where, ultimately, good will triumph, and at the end of each book, for now at least, all is right with the world.’

Thank you to every one of you who have read or plan to read one or more of the books, even just looked at a cover, come to visit this site, peeped through the keyhole, or encouraged me to keep writing.

Why do I do it? Why do I write? Because I can’t help myself!

Don’t Force It

Can I make what I have described happen? No. I have wait for the wave. Sometimes you just have to sit on the beach and watch the sea, admire the sky, listen to the gulwait for the wave woman with surfboard on beach ls, tend your surfboard. There is always the clam and mussel digging of marketing, the rockpool, net-and-jam-jar visits of research and, sometimes, it’s just a matter of lying back on the sand.

More?

Yesterday, book reviewer Nicole Pyles kindly published her recent interview with me. If you’d enjoy a little more insight and inspiration to continue with or create some fiction of your own, you’ll find it here:

The World of My Imagination header white on blue

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/2019/12/interview-with-holly-bell-author-of.html

Free!

Next weekend, I’ll have news of the free Kindle days that will be just before Christmas Day to help with your eleventh-hour gifts. Until then,

Happy December,

Holly


PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon

Shuttle launching. Text: Launch Report. Bottom left hand corner blue background and orange poppy with text: Thank you

Thank you, Apology, and Ivy

Dear Readers,

First of all, before I tell you about new features, I would like to say thank you. That extends to  everyone one supported the launch of the paperback edition of AmandaFlowers in a pumpkin mug and text: thank you Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, together with the free days of Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets on Amazon. Even just by reading this blog, you help.

The Results

The sales were at a record level, and the downloads almost matched those of Book 1 a few weeks ago: 1,000! The highest sales have come from the latest book, so your throng is gathering force (encouraging me to get on with writing Book 5). To all new consumers of Sunken Madley mysteries, welcome, and I hope that you are enjoying the journey.

Sorry!

Before I go any further, I would like to offer an apology for the paperback release date being delayed for a day. The publication process took longer than it has in the past, however now I am forearmed for future releases.

Also as of the time of writing the paperback has yet to be linked to the other books so here is the direct line to it:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Cadabra-Rise-Sunken-Madley/dp/1699870500

envelope coffe and pen on a table. Envelope text: Lytherow and a red sealMeanwhile, as you may have noticed, I am writing to you more often. To let VIP Readers and subscribers know when I post a new letter to readers, I am setting up a system to send an email to let you know the title of the article and a link so you can catch up if you’d like.

I’m testing it this week to make it look as appealing and useful to you as possible. It will be offered next to VIPs and then if it passes muster with them, to you who have also kindly agreed to keep in touch. This the first time I’ve done something like this, so any feedback would be a boon.

If you’d like to be included just click: keep me in touch, and know that you can unsubscribe at any time.

Extras

A brand new feature that I’m rolling out to give readers and potential readers more avenues to communicate with me is now on the Holly Bell Facebook page. Our illustrious illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña is creating an image of her.

Her name is Ivy, she is my chat assistant, and she’s a little robot. She’s always there.Two green chat bubbles with ivy above the smaller right hand one However, you can click on a ‘talk to a human’ where you can message me personally. I’m teaching Ivy to work here on amandacadabra.com too, so if you’d like to try her out that would be splendid. Even better, if you could let me know you like like her, how she gets on with assisting you to get to know more about the world of Amanda Cadabra, and the creation process.

There is also a new page on here called The Books, a quicker way of you finding the features about them that you want to read, see or listen to.

Next week I’ll be back, I hope to be featuring an interview with a member of the team, my editor. Have you ever wondered what it takes to go from book worm to beta reader to editor? All will be revealed …

Happy reading,

Holly

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon

Book 4 paperback top right and Book 2 bottom left with text: Free book 29 - 31 Oct

Double Cover Reveal and Free Book Days

Dear Readers,

Just one more day. The excitement mounts! Tomorrow, paperback fans, you will, literally, be able to get your hands on the real-deal, hard copy of new new British, humorous cozy paranormal mystery sequel, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley

Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets will be free to download from Amazon from tomorrow for three days (29 – 31 October). Here’s a video to Blog image link cover for AC2 free days for AC4 ppb launchentertain you and that you might like to share, if you have friends who enjoy cozies.

Meanwhile, here is the new paperback cover of Book 4, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, beautifully illustrated by our new talented artist, Daniel Becerril Ureña. In addition, he has given Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, a makeover, and here it is ahead of tomorrow’s first free day. Daniel has led a fascinating life to date traveling the world, enhancing his skills. An interview with him is coming up here presently. There will also be an interview with professional beta-reader Flora Gatehouse. If you’ve every wondered how to turn your hobby into something more, see how Flora made her journey.

Cover reveal of Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the cozy paranormal mystery series On orange lit stage Book 4 paperback cover , young witch in cream coat and black hat holding wand in left hand and holding on to hat with right. Strong wind blowing, cat at her side, village in the background, stormy sky. Back of cover, storm and lightning at the top.

Cover reveal Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets book 2 in the cozy paranormal mystery series: witch with wand and grey cat in dim cellar. She looks up through a hole at planes flying over and her torch points at a trunk on the floor. The cover is on a stage with fireworks. Audience in the foreground

If you’re new to the Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mystery series, you might like to watch the trailer for Book 1, to get a taste of it. The Inspiration’ page will tell you about the real Sunken Madley, the village where Amanda lives and most of the action takes place. If there is anything you would like to ask me, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

Looking forward to being back with a launch report for you, and news of the next highlight.

Happy reading,

Holly

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon

 

Link to video of Book 2 Chapter 1: old village church surrounded by trees. Text: Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell

New Video – and Free Chapter

Dear Readers,

The moment has come. With Tuesday’s release of the paperback of Amanda Cadabra and the Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the series and the free days for Book 2 almost upon us, here is a new video made for you in the past few days.

The new video is just out. It is a reading of the first chapter of Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and the Cellar of Secrets by me with some clips and images to entertain you while you listen. If you prefer to read along or just read, the text of the chapter is below.

Link to video of cozy mystery Book 2 Chapter 1, from Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets: old village church surrounded by trees. Text: Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell

 

In case, you’re wondering …

What goes into making a reading video like this?

It takes days. First, you need a good quality microphone, and I use the Rode NT, which I can plug into my computer. Some people have more sophisticated setups, but this does the job. Next, you need headphones so you can hear yourself read and also pick up on any interference or background noise that you don’t want. Next, I make sure I have ‘the script’: sometimes a printout, sometimes an ebook version. It helps to sit comfortably and to position yourself the optimum distance from the mic, which is about 6 inches. I use a floor stand for this.

What about background noise?

Without studio conditions, sound echoes off any hard surface: walls, furniture, doors, technology. So I use a foam filter, the shape of half a large tube that sits behind the mic. Next, I plug in the mic and make sure that the program I use and the computer recognise that that is how the sound is going to come in. Also, I set the recording to playback  vintage gramophone playing vinyl recordthrough the laptop or desktop speakers, depending on which I’m using.

If the ‘one, two, three, four, testing, Mary had a little lamb’, and the silence in between is ‘clean’ and clear then, there is a followup step: turn off all appliances that create background noise. That’s the tech set up.

So I can just go ahead and read and record now, right? Not quite. The enemy of voiceovers is mouth clicks. Those are extra noises your tongue makes releasing contact with it’s surrounding walls, floor and roof, so to speak. You want just the right amount of moisture around. How do you achieve this? The night before I make sure I have plenty of water to drink and the next morning too. I have tea or water handy and take sips every few sentences.

What if any get through regardless? Most can be edited out, but it’s time-consuming. I usually make two or three recordings of the whole chapter so that I can cut and paste from whichever one is the ‘cleanest’.

How long does each chapter take to record?

On average, 15 minutes to read. It can take longer. If you stumble over words, misread the script, hear your mouth clicking away, or neighbour slams a door, a car revs outside, a plane makes a low flyover, a helicopter passes … you get the idea. Then you have to stop, wait if necessary and re-read the sentence or phrase.

That’s just the recording. Next comes the editing. It’s a long and painstaking process to get the very best version possible. Additionally, it might sound too nasal or tinny, and that is adjusted using the graphic equaliser that comes with the program I use. I listen through both headphones and the computer speakers to check the quality.

Now the recording of the chapter is settled. What next? I add the introductory music that plays at the end too. This time, in a first-ever, I added some sound effects to signify the scene changes.

While you listen?

Vintage camera and filmAll done now? Not yet. I think it enhances your, the reader’s, experience if you have some visuals. This means gathering stills and clips. The still photographs need to be edited so that they are video screen shape. As all of the Amanda Cadabra books involve a trip to the past, one or two may need to be turned into a black and white or sepia version. As they are prepared the video is assembled, the audio track is added, and the stills and clips are synchronised with the text. Credits are added at the end.

Now it’s ready. Time to prepare this letter to you and announce its release. Just click on the screen above to be transported to Sunken Madley, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets. You’ll have 72 hours to download the book, free from Amazon from Tuesday to Thursday, 29th to 31st October. Both Book 2 and Book 4 will unite in a doubt cover reveal before then right here. Yes, Book 2 is getting a makeover!

Happy reading and listening,

Holly


PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon

 

Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets

 

Chapter 1

Why Amanda Found the Body

Call a doctor or search for clues? Amanda Cadabra took the few vital seconds to make the decision.

But then, she had never been impulsive.

*****

‘Mrs Cadabra, with the best will in the world from you and your husband, your granddaughter could not have had a normal childhood.’

In response, the lady seated with regal posture on the chintz sofa, inhaled, and raised an eyebrow, rendering her larger violet eye even more magnified than usual. Her piercing glare demanded an explanation. Detective Sergeant Thomas Trelawney of the Devon and Cornwall Police was not easily intimidated, as Vic ‘The Headbanger’ Hardy could have told anyone brave enough to have asked him.

However, on this, his first visit, to 26 Orchard Row, Sunken Madley, Trelawney needed to make some kind of connection with Senara, Perran, and their beloved granddaughter and adoptee Amanda. These three were, after all, the only witnesses to the day of the incident, 28 years ago, that he was here to continue investigating.

‘Here’ was a village that had grown up out of the rural landscape over a period of 800 years. It lay 13 miles to the north of the Houses of Parliament, and three miles south of the border of Hertfordshire. Herts, as the abbreviation is styled, was home to Jane Austen’s Emma and the seat of the burgeoning aircraft industry in the last century. Since those days, the county boundaries had been moved so that Sunken Madley was now, technically, on the outskirts of Greater London.

Nevertheless, Sunken Madley still was, in spirit, a country village, off the beaten track, hidden by the encircling trees. It was distinguished only by its orchard of Hormead Pearmain apples, and fine stained-glass windows, adorning the medieval church of St Ursula-without-Barnet. Of particular interest to students of the art, was the composition of the saint and the little bear with the bag of apples.

A gust of wind cast a pink handful of cherry blossom against the living room window as Trelawney’s hazel eyes returned Mrs Cadabra’s gaze politely but unwaveringly. He said mildly, ‘In other words, Amanda wouldn’t always have been able to play in the fields, run up and down the garden, maybe eat anything she wanted, like the other children here could.’

‘One couldn’t expect you to know this, Sergeant, not having any of your own,’ Mrs Cadabra pronounced with sympathetic condescension, ‘but,’ and she took a loose hairpin from her white victory roll, ‘children … adapt.’ She speared the accessory back into her coiffure to signal that the subject was closed.

Trelawney hadn’t finished. He thrived on puzzles, bringing order to chaos, and justice to the wronged. However, above these assets, his soon-to-be-retired boss, Chief Inspector Hogarth, trusted his seasoned judgment, especially of when to operate with a light touch.

He swivelled his tall, slim, grey-suited form towards Perran, who smiled kindly and said, with his gentle Cornish-flavoured voice, ‘I know what you mean, Sergeant. But Amanda was always a very special little one. Since she was a bian, a baby, she spent her fair share of nights in the local hospital when we didn’t know if she’d pull through. We did our best to help her, but in the end, she learned the hard way that her choices had consequences.’

‘Did that make Amanda fearful? Wary?’

‘Oh no, Sergeant, just careful, wise even, beyond her years. Though in others she’s young for her age. But, as Senara said, she got used to things, like carrying her inhaler, avoiding certain food, watching the pollen count. Amanda always says, ‘It isn’t terminal, after all, it’s just asthma.’

*****

It was asthma that had brought Amanda Cadabra to this moment, this room … this body.

She felt for a pulse.

*****

It had all happened a great deal sooner than anyone in the village could have expected. Even Dr Sharma, who was in the know, when she told Amanda about the new allergy clinic, had said that it was months away.

Amanda had dropped in, to collect a repeat prescription for her asthma inhaler, on her way to see about a furniture restoration job. An eager trainee from infancy, Amanda had taken over her grandfather’s business.

Asthma and furniture restoration were unlikely bedfellows, with the toxic chemicals, dust, and hard physical labour. This had niggled Trelawney from the first time he had read the case file three years ago.

Amanda’s secret levitation skills enabled her to cope covertly but ably. Trelawney, however, was a long way from even contemplating this possibility. And even if he had been able to, it would have been only with extreme scepticism and inexplicable discomfort.

Still, Amanda took sensible precautions and always had her inhaler handy. Dr Sharma was a respected and gifted physician, and between her own magic and the general practitioner’s medicine, the asthma was under reasonable control.

However, there was no denying that Amanda’s chest momentarily tightened when Neeta Sharma had told her where they were going to build an allergy research centre.

3 lit pumpkins with books a cat and mice and the words Which Genre? on the spine of the top book

The True Hallowe’en Genre? – Horror V Cozy

Dear Readers,

Where do you stand? Is horror more a of the Hallowe’en genre, or do you come down on the side of cozy paranormal mystery as the true seasonal read? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

With the kind permission of Books Go Social, here is an article they have just published in their Hallowe’en magazine. It’s choc full of new books ripe for the pumpkin weeks as well as short stories and extra treats.

The next article will herald the launch of Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley in Paperback and a special offer on Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets. 29th – 31st October are the dates to look out for.

Meanwhile, dear readers, here is my case on the crucial question of …

“The True Hallowe’en Genre

Go on .. guess …. Horror, right? Are you sure? Sure you don’t see the one standing behind it, lurking in the shadows, breathing quietly in the night ….

The rival contender is none other than the comparatively new kid on the block: the cozy paranormal mystery. If you haven’t yet investigated its delights, here is a brief summary:

There is a mystery, customarily murder. The sleuth is most likely an amateur female, usually a witch. There are ghosts. There is no explicit engagement of a romantic nature. The untimely death typically takes place off-stage. The language is inoffensive, and descriptions of fatalities and casualties are not graphic.

Here’s a rundown of horror from literary historian J. A. Cuddon: ‘A piece of fiction in prose of variable length … which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing.’ The cause of extreme unease is often, but not necessarily, supernatural in nature.

Hallowe’en Story Roots

So which of these is most faithful to where Hallowe’en comes from? Where is that? Closely allied to the Feast of harvest wheat carrots beatsSamhain (sah-oo-wn) that celebrated the turn of the season, it was a time to remember the dead. First, saints, then everyone. Presumably, not everyone had fond memories of those who had passed, or had reason to suspect that the deceased had less than fond memories of them! Consequently … the moment had come for some anti-phantom action. Time for a costume change and to see if you could out-ghost them with a scary makeover, and send them scurrying back to the Netherworld.

On the other hand, there was a useful aspect of the three-day spectre-fest. As the veil between the human and spirit worlds was thought to be thinnest at that point in the calendar, what better time to tune in for the inside track on where your future was headed? What you need, then, was a diviner. In short, a witch.

See where we’re going with this? There you have it: witches and ghosts. Furthermore, it would be reasonable to assume that those were the two focal points of the stories that were told on the three nights of the Hallowe’en celebration.

You might appreciate a word on the subject from M R James, a giant of the genre, of what makes a ghost story: ‘A pleasing terror’, no ‘explanation of the machinery’, set in ‘those of the writer’s (and reader’s) own day,’ with an absence of gratuitous physical intimacy or exsanguinations.

Surely cozy paranormal mystery is the closer fit with that list. So, if it really is the grassroots and culture of the Hallowe’en story, how did it get hijacked by horror?

The Horror Connection?

Here’s my theory. It’s all because of a film. A film called … yes, that one: Hallowe’eJamie Lee Curtis smiling .n. Made in 1978, and in case you’re not au fait with the cult classic, here’s a brief summary.

On Hallowe’en night, a 6-year old takes a knife into overly close quarters with his sister, resulting in a fatality. Thought to have some mental health issues, he is delivered into the hands of a secure facility, where he becomes resident. Fast-forward 15 years. He is being transported to a court hearing. It is the same night of the year, please note. He escapes and goes off to stalk an intrepid teen (Jamie Lee Curtis), littering the plot with bodies along the way, and provoking much screaming.

It did well at the box office and has been the subject of analysis over the years. The result for our purposes is that, because of the title and the popularity of the movie, the season became linked with themes associated with horror.

Is Cozy for Horror Fans?

Question mark in pumpkinSo, even if cozy paranormal is more Hallowe’eny, what if you are a fan of more hardcore speculative fiction, would you enjoy a walk on the perkier side? You’d be surprised how many horror and dark fantasy readers do enjoy a break with a taste of something lighter. You’ll find that cozy paranormals are not less, just different: surprise rather than shock, with puzzles, riddles and laughs out loud. Maybe even making the experience of your favourite genre that much more enjoyable by contrast.

Where to start? The top-selling authors currently, according to the latest K-lytics statistical report on the genre, are Annabel Chase, Amanda M Lee and Tegan Maher. You can check them out on Amazon.

So this year, why not get back to our Hallowe’en story past, dig up a cozy, something not too grave, let it spirit you away to a mystery in a charming village and entertaining characters witch you will love, without a ghost of a chance of a sleepless night afterwards.

Happy Hallowe’en

Holly Bell

I hope you enjoyed the article and, if you are an author or feel you have a book in you, I can highly recommend Books Go Social to ease your path in creating and promoting your book. Highly affordable and tremendously helpful, they have attracted a community of kind, caring and supportive members of the publishing community, writers of both prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, bloggers, reviewers, editors, and most importantly of all, readers. There is a special group just for them. You can check them out here: Facebook – authors, Facebook – readers, Twitter.

Back soon,

Holly

White lily on mid blue background with text: This is to say 'Thank you' to... link to video

Launch Site Report and Thanks

Dear Readers,

Last weekend was a roaring success. Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the British humorous cozy mystery series, is now available. At the same time, Book1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth had 1000 downloads!

Here’s a little video to extend my thanks to everyone who supported that weekend in one way or another, even just by visiting this site:

White lily on mid blue background with text: This is to say 'Thank you' to... link to video

Here is the very first review. Click on the image to read it:

elf in woodland text: Flora's Musings. Book Publication Day. Link to review of Amanda Cadabra Book 4

What’s next? The release of the paperback of Book 4 is expected this month, together with a special Hallowe’en offer on Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets. This is especially for readers of Book 1 who would like to carry on with the series, and anyone looking for a Hallowe’en gift. More news of that to follow.pastels in foreground and artists hand in the background

Book 2 will have a new cover by our resident illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña. I hope to bring you a special interview with him soon. Daniel has travelled the world to study and find inspiration for his remarkable art. I think any aspiring artist, art-lover or studier of book covers will find his experiences and observations as fascinating as I did.

Looking forward to being back with more news for you.

Happy October,

Holly

Paperback Launch of Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets

It’s here! The paperback edition of Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets is now available to buy on Amazon. After a few new technical challenges, it reached the virtual shelves of Amazon a few hours ago, ready to be transformed into print and paper on the click of a button. Here is a video to celebrate its appearance:

Youtube link Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets Paperback launch video In time for the New Year for those of you who received book tokens in your Christmas stocking, it comes with the bonus extra from Matchbooks. This Amazon option allows you to buy the paperback and get the Kindle edition for just 99 cents.

Over the holidays, both editions (Kindlebook and paperback) of both Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth and Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets something extra will be crated to enhance the experience of the story. It will appear here on amandacadabra.com and in four other places. I hope to unveil this shortly.

Furthermore, during the coming days, Heypressto, which publishes the Amanda Cadabra series will be beavering away on the publication of two new ‘feel-better’ non-fiction books. News of those to follow.

Just after New Year’s Day, writing will begin of Amanda Cadabra Book 3. If you would like to be a VIP Reader that gets an advance copy of the manuscript in order to give me feedback before it is prepared for publication, there are still spaces available in that limited numbers group. Please join if you have the time to read and reply within 7 – 14 days of receiving the manuscript. May I thank those readers who gave me valued input on Book 2 before it reached its final form. I hope you’ll want to stay on board for Book 3.

May 2019 be filled with just the right amounts of adventure, excitement, fun, relaxation, and cosiness. All of the ingredients and more that make a …

Happy New Year!

Holly

 

Link image to YouTube launch video with fireworks

Launch Day for Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets

Dear Readers,

Just a quick post to celebrate Launch Day of Amanda Cadabra and the Cellar of Secrets with you. Thank you for all of you who pre-ordered, purchased, spread the word and gave support and encouragement even in spirit. Remember that Book 1 is free to download from Amazon on Tuesday, 16th December, so if you want to either catch-up or stock up on your holiday reading, now is your chance.

The proof of the paperback should be arriving on my doorstep on Friday, so as soon as I’ve checked it and made any corrections so that it’s the best that it can be for you, I will click the ‘Publish’ button, and it will be available for you to buy. I will put it on ‘Matchbooks’ so if you buy the paperback then Kindle version will be only $0.99 so there’s a gift for someone and a treat for you in there.

Meanwhile, I am preparing some new Christmas inspiration for Sunken Madley church for you. Looking forward to sharing those with you and news of the paperback.

Happy reading.

Best wishes,

Holly

 

 

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