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.
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.
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle
First of all, before we get to ‘The Making of’ here is the trailer:
The 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.
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.
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
Next, 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 in 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 Up
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?
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle
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.
To 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.
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.
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.
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.
PS If you want to start the series:
Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle
With the countdown to 25th December in just hours now, here’s a little help with eleventh-hour preparations:
From Sunday until Christmas Eve, the Christmas cozy paranormal mystery, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan is free on Amazon Kindle. For 72 hours, this is for you to download, send as a last-minute gift, stocking filler or reward to yourself. After all, you deserve a treat, especially now.
Here’s a little video you might like to send to someone who needs to beat the clock. Or they may be a fellow fan who loves a humorous British whodunnit with a wandful of magic and a hint of romance sprinkled on the top.
This is the last special offer of the year. Still, I will have news of one for January 2020, especially for anyone who would like to start on the Amanda Cadabra series. More of that next time.
Meanwhile, here is my latest article for the Books Go Social Magazine – Holiday Reads. If you’d like inspiration for seasonal literary indulgences, follow the link where you can read or download the magazine and enjoy a wealth of recommendations and ideas.
And so to conclude, may I wish you the very best of the holidays, love, friendship, sumptuous food, beautiful settings, merriment and all that is fine and light and of good cheer.
Back next week,
PS If you want to start the series:
The poisoned sherry, the gunshot from the snow-covered terrace, the knife beneath the festive tree, the blackmail note inside the gift-wrap. How can we resist?
With mystery, thrillers and crime topping the Kindle charts only just behind romance, what is the appeal of the genre at this time of year?
People gather who customarily avoid one another like the plague, but under familial pressure, a sense of duty, or fear of isolation, duly attend the party. Let us set aside the convivial ideal gathering, and inspect instead the potential for delightfully deadly conflict.
Hosts prepare exceptional food, guests dress up and bring presents: all potential pawns in the battle for status, approval and a place in the family head’s will! The cooking of an ambitious feast causes tension in the kitchen. Old feuds are rekindled. Light the blue touch paper … and stand back.
The writer will set us up with apparent comfort and joy. The fairy lights, candles, tinsel and baubles on the tree, sparking wrapping and satin ribbon adorn the setting. Cards are exchanged, full of sentiment, heartfelt or spurious. Seasonal music fills the air, carols in the village church, singers with lanterns outside the door, old favourites around the piano and on the radio. The banquet is rolled out, to oohs and ahhhs as the turkey or goose in all its golden splendour is borne from the kitchen. The pops of the crackers sound, the laughter at the awful jokes, paper crowns. perched comically. The tastes of the savoury and sweet are relished. A feast for the senses. Smiling faces, goodwill … and then ….
The sudden, shocking interruption. The dive into a world of plots, suspicion, passion and dark deeds until the awful truth is revealed. Contrast follows again with the happy ending, the victim given justice, and the innocent exonerated. The lights come back on, the toast is drunk, and the Christmas spirit is all the greater for the drama that has unfolded.
For an example, I reach for a Christmas crime by the godmother of the cozy mystery: Dame Agatha Christie.
Interestingly her prime cozy sleuth Miss Marple is unavailable for the winter celebration. However, her Belgian private detective, Hercule Poirot, comes to our rescue in a short story. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is the one Christie that could only have unfolded during that time of year.
Poirot rejects the whole idea of the traditional rural English Christmas. The countryside signifies the damp and chill of old stone mansions, and, he declares, the occasion is, in his native land, reserved for children. However, the plight of a hapless prince and royal scandal are in the balance. The young man has been robbed of a priceless family heirloom: a suitably red ruby.
The trail leads to Kings Lacey. With the promise of efficient central heating and hot water, our beloved Belgian agrees to join a family party there. Dinner brings a dazzling surprise with an unexpected object in the plum pudding. How did it get there? Soon there is a more pressing question as the red and white of yuletide turns to blood on the snow. Who is responsible for the footprints leading out to the body lying in the garden?
Christie throws in twists and turns to bring the path to a satisfactory conclusion. Not the best written, but it is her most Christmassy and tosses us from interest, to anticipation, to engagement, to shock, to resolution and back to seasonal joy.
However, I would suggest that our attachment to Christmas crime goes back far earlier than Christie. At the dawn of our human consciousness, the first mystery surely would have been why nature died, the days darkened, the air chilled. And then, a further curiosity, why the earth revived, lightened and warmed.
It is innate in us all to seek cause and effect. Could it be that at this time of year we have some genetic, tribal memory linking us to that first puzzle? Our forebears attempted to explain it, with what we still do: telling stories. An example is the tale of the battles at the solstices between Oak, king of summer and Holly, lord of winter.
Isn’t that what a mystery is? Not cause and effect, but effect first: a dead body. Who or what caused it? Whodunnit.
So as the death of nature resolves into the beginning of the lengthening of days, what better genre to celebrate with than a mystery? In harmony with the seasonal spirit, what better than a cozy mystery?
As a global event, the solstice is celebrated or has a history of celebration in some form or another across the world. Whether with tinsel and glitter, candles and bonfires, smiles and laughter, add a mystery, and let there be light.
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 entertain 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.
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.
Hot off the virtual press in its final incarnation comes the full cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, fourth in the British cosy paranormal mystery series.
It’s all thanks to our new illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña who has been labouring tirelessly to get it to you today. Feedback so far has been 100 per cent positive. The cover is as the book will appear on Amazon shortly.
So what’s next? Tomorrow sees the release of the trailer! Where can you see it? Here, on YouTube (on my new channel), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, if all goes according to plan. Please let me know what you think of it so that I can build them better and better for your future viewing pleasure.
Meanwhile, the manuscript for Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley is now complete, bright and shiny, thanks to the endeavours of my superb editor, Flora Gatehouse, and the valuable contributions and suggestions offered by the VIP advance readers. There are still spaces remaining in this limited numbers group if you’d like to join for Book 5. Alternatively, you can simply keep up to date by adding yourself on the keep-in-touch page.
At the end of the week, there will be the release of the audio-video of Chapter 1 of the new book. The text will be on here so you can read, or read along, but the feedback on the visuals that go with the reading has been enthusiastic so far!
Until tomorrow …
Oll an gwella, (Cornish for ‘all the best’. Yes, still learning, by candlelight late at night.)
Only hours ago, I received, to share with you, the partial cover of Amanda Cadabra and the Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the British cosy paranormal mystery series. The full image is being perfected, as I write, by our new illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña. It may appear here within the next day or so.
Meanwhile, here is the launch date:
Less than a week to go! As soon as it becomes available for pre-order, I’ll let you know. At that weekend, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Amazon Kindle for 2 days. Do if you have any fellow cosy fans you think may enjoy a visit to Sunken Madley and Cornwall? Please do let them know that they can join the series with the mere click of a button on Saturday and Sunday. 28th and 29th of September.
Meanwhile, in breaks between polishing the manuscript for you, and preparing for the Big Event, I have been learning Cornish. After all, Amanda, Granny, Grandpa, Detective Inspector Trelawney, and former Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth all hail from there in one way or another. Parts of each story are set in that land. Wicc’yeth, the magical spell language is a mixture of Old English and Cornish. It seemed only right, not to mention fascinating, to delve into the genuine article.
I have a wonderful tutor from Kesva.org who is helping me begin Grade 1, plus I’m playing on Memrise, the language learning site. Anyone care to join the journey? I have already encountered many kind people along the way, more than happy to encourage newbies like me … and, if you choose, you too!
For now then, redyoryon ger (dear readers), it’s time to get back to shining up the book and spreading the news. Back soon …
How good are you with spot the difference challenges? Find out how finely tuned your detective instincts are with the new competition. All you have to do is spot the 10 changes on the maps here, between the English village of Sunken Madley as it is in Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets and in the new Book 3, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan. Click the link below the maps to send in your answers.
The winner will receive a free signed (by me, Holly Bell) copy of a first edition paperback of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan. The closing date is 19th June 2019, exactly one month after the launch of the book. You don’t need to have read any of the novels to join in. If you know of anyone who would find it fun, then please share this post on Facebook or any other social media.
How will the winner be picked? By the traditional method: all of the names will go into a hat, and Aunt Amelia will pick one by the light of a full moon.
Tomorrow, Sunday 19th May will see the launch of the new book (so you still have time to get it at the pre-order price), and Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Amazon Kindle for 24 hours. The next news will be the release of the paperback of Book 3 and the surprise video, especially for fans of Sunken Madley and the real village that inspired it.
Meanwhile, happy spotting!
With only three days to go until the launch of Book 3 Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan, here is the long-awaited book trailer. It is also viewable on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and my author pages at Amazon, so if you are a fan of one of those and think your friends might enjoy it, please do share. It’s only about a minute long.
The book is now up on Amazon for pre-order at the special discount price of $2.99 until Sunday when it will be $4.99. Remember that Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and the Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Sunday, so please take full advantage of the affordable opportunity to get on board the series if the Amanda Cadabra adventure is one you have yet to enjoy.
Tomorrow will see the release of a new venture for Heypressto, who publishes the books, and me. It is a YouTube video, which is an audio recording of me reading chapter 1 of the new book! It has some visuals too, in case you like to watch and listen. The text of the chapter will be here on the website also for those who prefer to read, or read and be read to simultaneously.
Saturday will see the launch of the competition, but more about that tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who has already bought Amanda Cadabra and the Hidey-Hole Truth and Amanda Cadabra and the Cellar of Secrets. The feedback that I had so far indicates that Book 3 is the best so far. I hope you agree.
This is the moment: the full cover reveal of Amanda Cadabra and the Flawless Plan, Book 3 in the Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries series. The Kindle version is now about to become available for pre-order at the special pre-order price of $2.99 until Sunday 19th May when it will be released at full price.
On Thursday, you will be able to read the first chapter of the new book here. This is to give you a taste of the action, intrigue and puzzles to come the way of Amanda Cadabra and her grumpy feline familiar, Tempest (a great favourite of many readers!)
Some of you have kindly said how much you are looking forward to returning to the English village of Sunken Madley. Especially for those of you who feel a special attachment to the place, and by extension to the real Sunken Madley, there is an extra treat in store. More about that later.
On Friday, look out for the book trailer here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Please do let me know what you think of it. Your feedback is highly valued.
If you’re new to the series, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Sunday, the same as Book 3 launch day. If you know of someone who would delight in the mysteries and eccentricities of Amanda’s world, please do let them know so they can take advantage of the free download on that day. I would love as many people as possible to have the chance to try our dear Sunken Madley on for size and see how it fits them.
Thanks go out for the cover art of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan to creative Erik Patricio Lúa, who is now working on the back cover of the paperback version of the book. News of that to follow!
Finally, thank you to everyone reading this for sharing the excitement of this week with me.