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Porthleven in the background, with Amanda Cadabra book t and a cream tea in the foreground

The Real Cornish Café from Amanda’s Cozy Mystery World

Dear Readers,

The Twisting Current

Cornish pasties, Jamaica Inn, smugglers, and Cornish clotted cream teas. What do they all have in common? Yes, they’re all things for which Cornwall is internationally famous, and they appear in the Amanda Cadabra series. However, it is the last item in the list that is probably the most popular and today we learn its secrets.

Map showing location of Porthleven, Cornwall, SW EnglandMichael and Susan Plant are the creative geniuses behind the café that inspired our heroine’s favourite port of call in Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr: The Twisting Current, on the edge of mysterious Bodmin Moor. There Amanda finds her dream treat, astonishes Inspector Trelawney with her capacity for seconds, and can’t resist the opportunity to go back for more.

The Search

As readers will know, Amanda is dairy free on account of her asthma. Consequently, when writing the book, I set out on The Twisted Current Tea Room in Porthlevena hunt for a real life café that would serve a dairy-free, proper Cornish cream tea. Casting the net far and wide through Cornwall, I discovered a rare treasure: The Twisted Currant in Porthleven in the far south west, just half an hour from Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland Cornwall and England. There they make and serve a luscious array of cakes and mouthwatering savouries with choices for dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan visitors.

Michael kindly granted me an opportunity to interview him about the story behind the café and its acclaimed cream teas.

Owners of the Twisted CurrentPlease could you tell me, what is your and Susan’s connection to Cornwall?

We are not natural Cornish. Susan came down from London with her parents and I was posted to RNAS Culdrose whilst in the Navy. We have both been in Cornwall since 1982. I think the secret to living in Cornwall is to accept the Cornish ways and to go with the flow. I now consider crossing the river Tamar near Plymouth as almost going abroad.

What inspired you to open the café? Do you both come from a restaurant background?

We started a cafe as Susan baked professionally and I wanted to start a small business. We thought that our personalities matched a tea room environment.

The Twisted Currant was furbished only last year, with golden yellow, cream fresh white and warmInside the Twisted Current Cafe. White shelves with nautical artwork, wooden tables, bright interior wood. It looks so appealing that I ad to ask: How did you decide how to present/decorate the café?

We wanted the tea room to be bright and fresh, but homely and a relaxed ambiance. One of our daughters designed the layout and I built the benches and counter.

Clearly Michael and Susan are a talented couple. For the benefit of international readers who may not be familiar with Amanda Cadabra’s favourite Cornish delicacy, I asked Michael,

Could you explain, please, for my international readers, what a cream tea is, what clotted cream is?

A cream tea consists of either fruit (sultanas) or plain scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam and a pot of tea. Scones are made with flour, butter and milk, made into a dough, rolled about an inch thick and cut with a round fluted cutter. They are baked until crisp on the outside.

There is some debate as to the order of the toppings, I gather.

In Cornwall the jam is applied to the scone and then the cream. In the neighbouring county of Devon the cream is applied first, then the jam. Local Cornish are passionate about the correct way to spread the jam and cream and gently chide anyone who gets it wrong.

Where did the inspiration come from to create a dairy-free cream tea?

For non dairy scones we serve coconut cream instead of cream and use oat milk in place of milk when making theNormal cream tea and a chocolate cream tea on the same platter scones. We do a lot of gluten free, nut free and vegan scones as well. Susan started making gluten free scones for one of our daughters friends who was celiac. We now try to have a dairy, gluten free or vegan version of everything on our menu so friends and family can all order something from our menu regardless of diet or lifestyle choices.

Susan is the inventor of all our cakes and scones. She invented the chocolate cream tea consisting of chocolate chip scones, chocolate spread and clotted cream. Reactions vary, with some customers stating they are to die for, and more traditional minded customers being scandalised with such decadancy.

What other Cornish specialties can we find at your café?

We try to do as much Cornish as possible and also serve saffron tea cakes and “Thunder and lightning” consisting of slices of white bread lathered with clotted cream and golden syrup.

Where do most of your non-local visitors to the café come from (in a normal year.)

Our customers range from locals to tourists from all over the UK and abroad. Many locals stay away during the busy tourist season but come out in winter when they know they can get a seat.

On Google Maps, I can see that Fore Street where the café is, is also named ‘Stret A-rag’. Do you useHarbour in sunlight on the water any Cornish words in the menu or around the café at all?

The Cornish language is not used in everyday speech any more but some vestiges survive. For instance, in the neighbouring village of Helston they have a dance every year around the town when “Hellys bys vycken” (Helston for ever) is shouted by the participants. The Cornish language is very similar to Breton in Brittany, France, where it is spoken more commonly.

Michael’s words made me feel especially happy to be part of the Cornish language revival, together with thousands around the UK and abroad who are now learning and speaking with one another on a regular basis. Hopefully one day it will again be used in everyday speech. Meanwhile, I asked Michael, the next question:

I read that Porthleven lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with breathtaking views from the Porthleven Cliffs and the mysterious Giant’s Rock. But what about Porthleven makes it special to both of you?

Porthleven is special to many locals and visitors alike because it is an unspoilt fishing village which despite the tourist  influx has a vibrant community spirit. They do things ‘dreckly’ (like the Spanish manana but slower) in Porthleven so stress levels are lower and life generally is more relaxed.

You’re right by the harbour with green hills and fields to the north. Looks like a Victorian building. Are you able to tell me anything about it?

The Twisted Currant shares a Victorian building with Star Gazey, a gift shop and holiday apartments above. It was originally a grocery store with owners accommodation above but has seen many different businesses over the years since.

Is this the first time The Twisted Currant has made an appearance in a novel?

As far as I know it is the first time the Twisted Currant has made an appearance in a novel.

I was excited to see the word ‘Rodda’s’ on two to the little dishes in two of the photos. It’s the only clotted cream I ever buy when I want a treat. I’m lucky enough to live near a supermarket that always has it and so I can feel that little connection will Cornwall.

We use Rodda’s clotted cream with our cream teas. It is a local business which is now world renowned and is always lip-smackingly good. Clotted cream is understood to have been invented many years ago when a farmers wife inadvertently left a pot of cream on the stove overnight. When she came down in the morning the cream had thickened and clotted cream has been made ever since.

Amanda’s Future Go-To

Michael kindly said that he was ‘happy for you to mention the Twisted Currant in any of your books in the future.’ You can be sure that Amanda will be making a return visit to the literary version of the cafe. Thanks to Susan’s creation of the chocolate cream tea, I can see The Twisted Currant becoming a place of pilgrimage for chocolate lovers, as well as gluten-free and dairy-free visitors to Cornwall.  Guest houses, hotels and holiday cottages have now re-opened, if you would like to book your stay in one of Britain’s most beautiful areas, and sample the delights of the Twisted Currant for yourself.

Thanks, More? and The Sequel

It remains only for me to thank Michael and Susan for their sharing their experiences and granting me the use here of some choice photos from their Facebook page. (A rich selection of mouth-watering delights. Deliciously browsable!)

I hope that you have enjoyed our behind-the-scenes visit to one of the special places that have inspired locations and experiences in the Amanda Cadabra books. Please do let me know if you would like some more articles like this one.

Meanwhile, Book 7 has begun its flow. The all-important first paragraphs are written, and more is coming into being every day. And every night, when the characters like to chat to each other! The stream is moving, the blossoms, shops and businesses are opening, and the days are lengthening towards mid-summer. It’s all to come.

Happy May!


Holly

Behind the Scenes of the New Cozy Mystery

Dear Readers,

Three Treats To Come

3 muffins on a leaf shaped white plate with a small bunch of berries on the right hand sideToday we follow the trail to Denise Fleischer’s ingenious questions that prompted me to reveal … maybe not all … but, well, you’ll see. Denise, through her splendid book review site Gotta Write Network, is kindly hosting a blog tour spotlight of my latest book launched just last month on Kindle and in paperback. This includes an interview, a guest post and an excerpt from the new novel. I’ll let you know when the other two enter stage left.

Behind the Curtain

Golden curtain on left pulled aside to show crocuses in morning sunlightBack to the Q&Q. If you are curious about the creation of Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, the latest in the Amanda Cadabra series, read on …

Denise: In Book 6 of the British, humorous, cozy paranormal mystery series of Amanda Cadabra, you focus on the strange case of Lucy Penlowr. How are the readers introduced to the case?

Holly: The book begins with a dream that Amanda has while travelling to Cornwall with Detective Inspector Trelawney. She witnesses a fire in a grand house and a murder. Trelawney wonders if it has anything to do with the story of Lucy that they are going there to hear.

Denise: Who is Hogarth and why can’t he stop thinking about a case from 30 years ago where children allegedly began to go missing?

Holly: Retired Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth, of the Devon and Cornwall police, was and is Trelawney’s boss and best friend. He is also Amanda’s honorary uncle. The cold case has unexpectedly personal associations for Hogarth, and links to Amanda and Trelawney. At the end of the previous book, Lucy, from deep in the shadows, tells Amanda that it is time for Hogarth to tell ‘Lucy’s story.’ It may be that Amanda is the key to solving the case.

Denise: What is the history of Bodmin Moor? What’s located in this area?Tor on Bodmin Mor looking out over green wild landscape

Holly: Bodmin is a granite moor at the heart of Cornwall, the south-east peninsula of mainland Britain. It is at least 60 million years old, and humans have lived there for at least 10,000 years. Now few people dwell there.

Brown Willy is the highest point in Cornwall, and the moor is rich in Bronze Age monuments, stone circles and ancient burial structures. The landscape is of barren rocks set a lush green of grass, marram, moss and bog. It is perfectly safe during the day but after dark …. It is also known for the legendary Beast of Bodmin Moor, the haunted Jamaica Inn (made famous by Daphne du Maurier), the ghost of a Victorian murdered girl, and witchcraft!

Denise: Is there a reason Hogarth and Trelawney’s father, Kyt, are eager to tell Amanda about the case and about Growan House? 

read more …

Meanwhile

I hope that you enjoy the interview, and the book. Back soon with news of the next project. Meanwhile, here is the post-launch trailer which includes some beautiful footage of Bodmin Moor from professional cameraman Paddy Scott, and two talented amateur photographers.

Link image to video of trailer for Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr. Book leaning on Cornish granite. Text: Now on Amazon

Happy spring!

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

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

Link image to YouTube book trailer: Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr by Holly Bell on ereader leaning against a granite rock. Text: Coming to Amazon

Book Trailer for Amanda Cadabra VI and The Making Of

Dear Readers,

First of all, before we get to ‘The Making of’ here is the trailer:

Link image to YouTube book trailer: Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr by Holly Bell on ereader leaning against a granite rock. Text: Coming to Amazon

Open suitcase with sunny sky in the lid and a beach umbrella deckchair and sand in the bottom. Water pouring out of the sie onto a blue seaThe Thwarted Plan

You may recall that last year I was planning a field trip to Cornwall. There was going to be a Cornish language weekend. Whilst on location, I was to film and take photographs for the trailer and launch about to happen.

And then …. Yes, the world situation altered, and the project was put on the back burner. As things to turned out, it brought about something special that I would not have otherwise have had the pleasure of experiencing.

The Upsides

First, the Cornish language weekend happened online. It was tremendously enjoyable, and all from the comfort of my own nicely padded office chair and beloved desk.

Second, well, you’ll see. Well, if you want to make a book trailer about Cornwall from London, what do you do? You look for high-quality footage and stills shot by other people. I have three go-to websites for stock footage, but nothing there fitted the bill. There are paid stock photo sites with more choice, but not being quite as the Hollywood budget stage, I went to YouTube for ideas.

Striking Gold

There I found exactly what I was seeking: El Dorado. Paddy Scott is a photographer, cameraman and filmmaker. His work is outstanding and in his film of Bodmin Moor, his love and appreciation for it’s beauty, from stark to lush, from harsh to tender shines through. Paddy had captured two magnificent pans of the landscape that would be perfect for the book trailer.

Anyone who has tried to record outdoors on the moors will now that filming smoothly is an art. Fortunately for me, it had been perfected by Paddy. I wrote,  asking for permission to used a clip or two, and waited.

Road Movie and VistaVision

Abandoned building on Bodmin moor in sunshineNext, to show Amanda’s progress from her endearing English village of Sunken Madley to Cornwall, I needed some driving-along-a-road footage. And not just any road: a Cornish road. Not just any Cornish road either. It had to be around Bodmin Moor. No easy task. However, once again, I found a photographer, Harry Mateman, who had made a delightful video of highlights of the Moor, including driving along the desired byways. I crafted a missive requesting his leave to use some of it, and waited.

Finally, I wanted some other sweeping vistas across the wild spaces of the Moor. Again I sought for buried treasure inVisat of Bodmin Moor the vaults of YouTube. There I found the very film created by Olly Parry-Jones.

I wrote and asked if I might use some choice sections and bided my time.

Who Would Say Yes?

Now, image permissions (whether stills or video) are a must, especially for a commercial venture such as a book trailer. Still, even for something informal, it is not only a legal necessity but a courtesy. Whether amateur or professional, the photographer has spent time and energy developing their skill, has outlaid the cost of equipment and transport, and above all brought their unique eye to bear upon the subject. That’s why we say please and thank you … if they say yes.

Over the years, I have had exceptional experiences with fellow photographers, but they don’t always respond. It might be that they don’t visit the internet site or platform on which you contact them to pick up messages, or they might not see the email you send. It might go into spam, or they might just be busy and/or have more important things to do. If I got two out of three replies, I would be fortunate indeed.

So… how many responded? All three! Within 24 hours, all had said ‘yes’ and two took an interest in the project.
I look forward to sending each of them a paperback as soon as they become available.

Sunny Side UpMusician Nacnud leaning against standing stone on Bodmin Moor

Yes, here was the bright and shining silver lining to the postponed trip. I had a heart-warming experience I would have missed. And so I bring you the book trailer for Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, courtesy of these three kind gentlemen, and a list of others (in the credits at the end of the film) who make their work freely available for projects like this one. The genuine Cornish music, An Culyek Hos, in the soundtrack comes to us care of Nacnud, who posted his very own melodious performance on YouTube.

Launch Dates and Standalone Sequels

I hope you enjoy the movie. The book will launch as a Kindle edition this Saturday, 6th February. In celebration, Book 1 of the series, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, will be available for free download from Amazon for just three days: Saturday to Monday, 6 – 8 February.

Just a note about the sequels, although there is an overarching storyline, each book has a standalone mystery, so you can pick and choose where to sample. Of course, it’s most fun if you start at the first one and ride through the series in order. If you’re new to the world of Amanda Cadabra know someone who’d enjoy a visit, please do take advantage of the free 72 hours over the long weekend.

Next time: launch report and … what next for Amanda, Tempest, her irascible feline and invaluable police contact, Inspector Trelawney?

Happy February,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Bird against blue sky with brown paper wrapped parcel suspended from its beak by string

New Cozy Sequel Alert

Dear Readers,

Launch day of the new book is approaching!

Cream globe, framed question mark and white coffee cupWhere’s the book?

The sequel, Book 6 in the Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mystery series is now with our editor, Kim, of Brockway Gatehouse Literary Services.

Daniel, our illustrator, is tweaks away from completing the cover. The book is with the Inner Circle of beta readers who check for any stray typographical and grammatical errors. Shortly, it will be going out to the VIP readers for an advance read-and-feedback before publication.

Image of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, Book 1 in the series, next to snowdrops. Text: Free with Book 6 launchFree Book 1

Once again, as has become customary for a new book launch, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, will be free for download for about 48 hours, so any new readers who would like a taster can enjoy the first book without cost.

What’s the line-up?

What can you expect next? First, the title reveal: a bit different from the one shown at the end of Book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths. Then a partial cover reveal with which to tease and tantalise! The full cover reveal will soon follow, however. A highlight will be the trailer video, then launch day, and the free Book 1 offer. No doubt there will be other goodies along the way.

Grey cat leaning forward over wall with questioning look on its face: what?What’s it all about?

Never before have I written a book so quickly. December was an amazingly exciting month for that very reason (as well as Christmas!). So what is about?

Cover witch, Amanda Cadabra travels into Cornwall, driven by the tenacious Detective Inspector Thomas Trelawney of the Devon and Cornwall Police. Much to the inspector’s discomfiture, they are, of course, accompanied by Amanda’s irascible and incorrigible feline familiar, Tempest.

At his home in the clifftop hamlet of Mornan Bay, she hears a story from her honorary Uncle Mike and Trelawney’s boss, mentor and best friend. This is a tale whose ending Amanda must supply, solving a cold case murder up on Bodmin Moor, facing her greatest test yet, on her most perilous journey into the past.

Home, Sweet Home?

For fans of Amanda’s quaint English village of Sunken Madley, never fear, for the book ends up there, with all the familiar favourites at The Corner Shop and The Grange. There Amanda gets a warning about her next puzzle.

orange rose with deeper orange edges to say thank youSpecial Thanks

Finally, to all the new readers who have joined the Holly Bell Facebook page in recent weeks, thank you so very much for adding your valued presence.

Right … next on the list: the trailer!

Back soon,

Happy January reading,

 

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Pile of Amanda Cadabra paperback 1-5 with Book 6 leaning against it. Amanda Cadabra 6. Partly transparent. :text Now in the conjuring. It top left a golden disk with text: Book 1 Kindle Deal $1.49

New Sequel News, and Kindle Deal for Book 1

Dear Readers

Double Extra

Hoping you are all well and happy, I am here to deliver two items of big news to you.

First of all, I was bobbing with excitement when I received an email from Amazon congratulating me. For what? They had selected Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, Book 1 of the series, for a Kindle Deal!

This means it is made available to readers for a special price. For how long? A whole month? And not just anyCelebration, silhouette of people dancing against sunset/sunrise old month: the Christmas month! And where? Although they have yet to see the light about extending this globally, they have chosen Canada and the USA. How much? I admit the image above may have given this away: $1.49

Why was a I Snoopy-dancing that this point? Because this is a huge vote of confidence from Amazon in both the first book and the series. They clearly believe that there is a much wider audience out there who would love to join the party, and Amazon are doing their best to reach them. We can, therefore, look forward to more visitors to the world of Amanda Cadabra and our beloved village of Sunken Madley.

Book 6 – New Sequel

Steam train with AMANDA 6 on the frontHowever, I also have something for those of you already on the trail. I am now 40,000 words into the first draft of Amanda Cadabra Book 6. I have begun the first editing pass. This is the one that fills out the book to about double the number of words. The working title has changed a little from the one readers may have spotted at the end of Book 5. More of that to come.

January 2021

At present, the working, possibly ambitious, plan is to get to it to you, all bright and shiny, during the first or second month of 2021. We’ll see. My dear editor Kim has pencilled me in for the beginning of January. Daniel, our esteemed illustrator, will have paintbrush poised, ready to go, in a couple of weeks. So it’s fingers a-blur here to get it to you on schedule.

Meanwhile, if you know of anyone who might like the first book, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, either at the deal price (in North America) or as a paperback Christmas present for themselves or a giftee, please spread the word. The more, the merrier.

Back soon with more news on the new sequel.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

 

 

 

 

3 hot air balloons in blue sky. White text: Free BookDay, Paperback Launch, Trailer Launch (of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths)

New Book Trailer, Paperback Launch, and Final Free Day

Dear Readers,

Goodies aplenty have been in the making here at Heypressto.

Launched!

First, I was going to do a paperback cover reveal of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths. However, instead, I have something even better. The book, number 5 in the cozy paranormal mystery series, is now available in both formats: the one you can download and read electronically and the one you can hold in your hand. If, like me, you are one who prefers the printed page, you can find it here on Amazon where it was published just hours ago. (Click if you’d like to see the little video.)

The Artist Against The Odds

This is an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to the sterling work and creativity of our cover illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña. While thousands of miles away from home, pursuing further studies in his chosen artistic field abroad, during a pandemic and, in the midst of moving cities, Daniel pulled it out of the hat. He produced what is, in my opinion, the best cover yet of the Amanda Cadabra series.

If you’d like to see more of Daniel’s work, you can find some of his portfolio here: The art of Daniel. He is an artist well worth watching as he goes from strength to strength.

So, whether in ebook or paperback, what is Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths about? To answer that, here is the second item in the party bag:

The Brand New Trailer

Image link to trailer video for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths - Vintage magnifying glass in front of antique books. Text inside lens in white: Can you judge a book by its cover?

Free Chapter 1 of the New ReleaseDublin Interntional Writers Festival Magazine Cover with Chapter 1 of new Amanda Cadabra Book 5

The final surprise is in celebration of another landmark. Chapter 1 of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths is now published in the International Dublin Writers’ Festival Magazine. You can read it on page 126.

One More Goody

We are having one last day of the season when Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, will be free to download from Amazon. That will be on Saturday, 12th September when the Festival will be in full swing. And here is a little video for your entertainment.

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hold Truth in e-reader on sofa with cream cusions and text: Start the journey free today - free download from Amazon 12 September 2020

How Come?

Why don’t you do more free days for people who want to start the series, you may ask. Excellent question. It is because Amazon allows just 5 free days per Kindle book for every 90-day period. That’s how long each contract with them for exclusive retail rights lasts. Or as it is called KDP select. There are many benefits from being a part of this for both cozy mystery readers and authors. I like to save up the free days for special occasions, like this one.

In the Pipeline …

Book 6 is coming to me thick and fast and so there just one more fun project which will finish up all of the treats for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths: a YouTube of me reading chapter 1 for your pleasure.

Back soon with news of that. Meanwhile,

Happy viewing and reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Girl reading in bed, grey book hides her face as she reads. In foreground is a pile of red books and on one spine is the word Love.

An 11-Year-Old Falls in Love – my early book affairs

Dear Readers,

The Big Change

It’s massive now. It wasn’t then. Oh dear, can it be cured, I hear you ask. I do hope not. What I am describing is the collection of books written for teenagers, middle grade and young adult.

Only in recent years have these sections of the library blossomed into a wealth of literature that offers entertainment, reassurance, understanding and insight to young people.

Camel eating greenery in the desertOases in the Desert?

From 11-14 were crucial formative reading years for me. But in the comparative desert of books for that age, how did I find the authors that would one day contribute to the creation of Amanda Cadabra and her cozy paranormal mystery world?

The answers lie a click away. Short story author and poet

    Nicole Pyles

has just generously treated me to a guest blog post space on her splendid book review website,

    The World of My Imagination

. If you love books, do check out her YouTube

    An Ode To Books

. It is simply one of the most beautiful and moving videos I have ever seen.

And now to revelations of my love affair and subsequent teenage dreams … Just click the image and …

Image link to Nicole Pyles website for guest post by Holly Bell on the books that inspired her from 11-14 years of age. Blue background with white text: The World of My Imagination

Back soon with news of the paperback version (it’s now available on Kindle) of

    Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths

, now very close to publication. Plus one more free day for Book 1.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Amanda Cadabra Book 5 on e reader on wooden table next to edge of cup and saucer

Now Launched – Amanda Cadabra Book 5, & Free Days

Dear Readers,

Blast Off!

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths is now launched, live and available for download from Amazon Kindle. Below is a 15-second video for your entertainment.

 

Link image to video: Red apple on dark background with text in white: It's ripe - launch video for Amanda Cadabra and the Hidden Depths

Free Days

Tebook in ereader Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, leaning on a picnic basket with wild flowers on the lefto celebrate the launch, there will now be at least 2 free days for Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. So if you’re thinking of joining the Sunken Madley ride, you can do so without outlaying a single coin on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th August. If you know of a fellow reader who’d enjoy mystery, magic and suspense in an English village, please do pass on the good news.

Calm Waters

With each book, I get better with controlling the launch. Launches seem to have a mind of their own and are all too ready to grab the momentum and run wild with it. This time, it was all going according to plan, with no pressure. And then … an opportunity presented itself that was too good to miss.

girl smiling in kayak on white waterWild Ride

Books Go Social, who handles most of the marketing for the Amanda Cadabra books, invited me to submit an excerpt from Book 5 in a special magazine. This is no other than the International Review of Books special edition within the International Dublin Writers Festival magazine. This is scheduled for publication at the end of this month, (free to read online or download) now only days away.

The starting pistol had been fired and the fun began in earnest. Book 5 would have to launch at least a few days before the magazine comes out. I was still putting in the amendments in from my last readthrough, but now it was pedal to the metal. The team valiantly came on board, scheduling editing and cover illustration. At the same time, star beta readers kindly agreed to read the manuscript and get back with comments quickly.

Paperback

The Kindle version is now live, a little earlier than planned, thanks to this happy circumstance and everyone who pitched in. Next it’s time to get on with formatting for the paperback, while our cover artist Daniel conjures the back cover and spine for the book jacket.

(The launch process for the next book will be calm and composed. That’s the plan.)

Back soon with more news, possibly an additional free day for Book 1, and more juicy goodness.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Cover Reveal - Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths by Holly Bell

Cover Reveal – Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths

Dear Readers,

First Glance

Coloured pencils with tips forming a heart shapeIt was love at first sight. Just over two weeks ago, our outstanding illustrator Daniel sent me four sketches from which to choose. I had a breathless moment when I laid eyes on the fourth one. I kept looking back at it. Knowing it might be the most challenging of all of the compositions, I was confident Daniel could make it work.

Balancing Act and Countdown

I’d given Daniel two or three possible cover scenes from the story. They would need to be arresting and attractive but with no spoilers. There also needed to be some continuity with the previous covers in the series.

Daniel was due to go on leave shortly. He sent me the various stages, and I asked for tweaks that he patiently made. Knowing how industrious he is, the last thing I wanted was for Daniel to have to work on my project during his vacation. With just 4 hours to go until his departure, the cover was done!

Cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths - girl in orange sleevless dress with wand, books in the background. Pile of books on floor in foreground with cat on top

This Weekend

Rocket launchingHere it is for your viewing pleasure. For me, it’s the best Daniel has produced for the Amanda Cadabra series. I was thrilled. My mentor’s reaction was — and please bear in mind that he works in graphics — ‘Wow, classy.’

We are only days away from the launch of the book, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths, so I’m working on the trailer video now. The book is due to become available this weekend on Amazon, first of all for Kindle.

As though things weren’t happening fast enough, Book 6 has started writing itself! If you would like to know what the title of that new book will be … you’ll find it at the end of Book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.

Back on launch day with news of trailer movie magic and the paperback edition.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

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