Today 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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
This is just a brief note, but I can share with you that one my dearest beta readers has just submitted the very first review of the book to Amazon. Also, I heard from our illustrator, Daniel, that he is working on the cover image for the paperback version of the book. As soon as possible, I will get that out for those who, like me, prefer the touchy-feely experience.
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?
The was the most exciting cover voyage of the series. What made it different? Well, as Daniel’s skill and understanding of the project have increased, I’ve taken more of a back seat. I simply told Daniel the plot of the book and let him choose a selection of scenes that appealed and inspired a possible cover. He sent me no less than eight sketches. I was dazzled. The better Daniel gets, the harder it is to choose. In the end, there was a shortlist of three, but I had to sleep on it. In the morning, I knew. It had to be the one we’ve opted for. Daniel got to work on the first level of tweaks. First level? Why couldn’t I just tell him all of them at once?
Have you ever tried on a suit in a shop? When you look at yourself in the mirror for the first time, you probably just want to see the effect of the outfit as a whole, an overview. That’s like level one. Say you like that. Now you start to look more closely, most likely at the jacket: level two. Then the details of the jacket, how it sits across the shoulders and so on. That’s level three. Then maybe you take off the jacket and look at the trousers or skirt. Is it the right length? Imagine it with different tops, different shoes.
So by the time you say, yes, this is the suit for me, you’ll have gone through a few layers of inspection. First, does it fit? Does it match other things in your wardrobe: like tops and shoes and scarves or ties? Is it appropriate for the occasions for which you want to wear it? Does it make you feel good? Do you love it?
It’s the same with a book cover. At each level of tweaks, you see more. In the case of a book in a series, does it have continuity with the other jackets? Is it a good match? Is it right for your genre? In other words, does it fit? The same ensemble that may look fabulous for dinner out or a party, may be too revealing for work. Again, it’s the same with the cover. It mustn’t reveal the plot, especially surprises. That might mean that a detail in a sketch you love needs to be left out.
What’s The Consistency?
Of course, we all have our own taste and style, a range of things that we feel confident wearing and know we can carry off. In illustration terms, we might call this artistic licence. Here’s an example. Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths takes place in the winter. However, on the cover, Amanda is wearing a sleeveless dress. It isn’t that she doesn’t feel the cold! It’s for consistency with other covers. It might also appear that Amanda owns only one pair of earrings because the same ones are there in cover after cover. Well, the same reason applies.
Finally, there is the all-important criterion that guides one through the cover tweaks: how it feels. Every time Daniel sent me a new version, what was the effect emotionally? More and more, it was this: I felt like I was in love.
What It Takes
So it takes reasoning, feeling and hours of staring, and hence several tiers of adjustments that gradually became finer. Essentially, it takes a patient and skilful artist to know how to make the changes, send back the new version, receive the next lot of changes. Rinse and repeat. All with a deadline looming, as the manuscript is nearing completion and the marketing engine comes to life. It takes an artist that you click with, who comes to know what you mean when you need an effect that you don’t know how to bring about, who loves the project, who loves the stories and the character and just ‘gets it’. I won the jackpot the day that Erik, my previous illustrator, introduced me to Daniel. Oh, and Daniel does all of this from the other side of the world, through lockdown and restrictions, and while doing post-graduate studies in art. I am sure there are many other authors who would happily create a Cover Illustrators Appreciation Day!
And There’s More
And so far, all you’ve seen is the front cover for the Kindle version. Soon the paperback will be available and you’ll be able to see the full effect in all its glory.
Meanwhile, next comes the trailer. Back soon to bring you a brief trip to the movies.
Here then is the sneak preview of the cover. Tempest The Cat you can’t help spotting (as ever) and the wand is a clue to Amanda’s whereabouts. However, whose, you may ask, is the shoe on the left? Yes, for the first time there is a third (live) person on the cover. Who could it be? Who would you like it to be?
Back soon to reveal all of the cover for Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr.
Here we are at last, revving up for the launch of the new Amanda Cadabra novel. Let the revelry commence!
At the end of Book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths, I said that the next book would be called, ‘Inspector Hogarth Investigates: The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr’. So why the change?
As the story was coming to me, fermenting in the watches of the night, it became increasingly clear, as Hogarth relates his tale to Amanda, that this was part of her history too. As you read, you’ll see why. The original intention was for Detective Inspector Thomas Trelawney simply to deliver her to Hogarth and resume dealing with business at his local police station. However, it occurred to me that it was also part of Trelawney’s family tapestry. So he should be in on the action.
As the narrative unfolds, new information comes to light of which Hogarth himself was unaware. How the ending of the tale will turn out is in Amanda’s hands. Consequently, the title became, ‘Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr.’ And strange it is, stranger than any that have unfolded in previous volumes of the series.
The First Plan
The original idea was to start a spin-off series of Inspector Hogarth Investigates novels, and that still may happen. I also like the notion of these being a series of Amanda’s ‘Uncle Mike’s’ cold cases, from before he became Chief Inspector Hogarth (of the Devon and Cornwall Police). Amanda, assisted by Trelawney and, of course, of the inimitable Tempest, must use her particular magical talents to resolve each one — facing peril at every step, naturally.
This would also allow the action to take place in the beautiful and magical land of Cornwall. Nevertheless, it will always take us back to Amanda’s cottage in the charming English village of Sunken Madley. Any thoughts? Please do drop me a line. I’d love to have your input.
The title reveal begins the run-up to the launch of this sequel, number 6 in the Amanda Cadabra British cozy paranormal mysteries series.
Next stop in the tour: the partial cover reveal. It is currently just three tweaks away from being ready for you to take a peek.
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.
Free 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.
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.
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.
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 any 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
However, 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.
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.
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