Goodies aplenty have been in the making here at Heypressto.
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
Free Chapter 1 of the New Release
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.
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,
PS If you want to start the series:
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
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.
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 through 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?
All 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,
PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets
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.