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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

Red rose. Text: Happy Valentine's Day with thanks to ... Link image to video

St Valentine’s Day Message

Dear Readers,

This is a just a brief letter as I hope a video paints at least a thousand words, and in just over one minute. Here it is. I made this for you:

Red rose. Text: Happy Valentine's Day with thanks to ... Link image to video

The paperback is just a tweak away. More news soon.

Remember that today is just as much about appreciating friends as it is romantic connections. Even if those friends are books.

Happy St Valentine’s Day to you,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Crowd in silhouette, fireworks against purple lighting. Text: Launch Day! New Cozy Sequel

Launch Day for Amanda Cadabra Book VI!

Dear Readers,

Here we are at last! Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr is now live. Here for your entertainment is the launch video:

 

Big fireworks against night sky and text: Launch Day is here! Link to video for launch of Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr by Holly Bell

 

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.

Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth is free from today until Monday. Something else to celebrate!

Back soon with the launch report, thanks to all of those who made this possible, and what next …

Happy viewing,

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

Cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr. Young woman in hooded cream coat and orange dress of the right. She holds a glowing wand. It is night. Man on left in black coat looking into a portal leading to the landscape of Bodmin Moor with a burning house in the distance. There is a grey cat with yello eyes in between the two people looking up at the youg woman.

Full Cozy Mystery Cover Reveal – Creation Story

Dear Readers,

Here it is! The product of our wondrous illustrator Daniel Becceril Urena’s creative furnace.

Tough Choice

Road with three arrows pointing left, right and straight ahead. Feet standing a a yellow line, left foot forward. Trying to choose which directionThe 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?

Suits You?woman in grey hat and black jacket holding bag and smiling

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.

Good Fit?

So by the time you say, yes, this is the suit for me, you’ll have gone through a few layers of3 red tipped matches on top of a box 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 Three cats sitting one behind the other. Two tabbies and a gingers and white striped cat at the backwearing 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.
On left foreground male artists arm and hands sketching with sunny city in the backgroundIt 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.

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

part of giftwrapped book with circle cut out showing part of the Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr cover: grey cat, leg in black trousers, hand and hand with wand with fire in the background. Book is next to a cup coffee with beans on a wooden table

Partial Cover Reveal – A First Third?

Dear Readers,

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.

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

Silhouette of Amanda Cadabra 6 against bright light comgin through a window at the end of a colonade with the words Title Reveal inset in the paving stones

Title Reveal – New Cozy Paranormal Mystery

Dear Readers,

Here we are at last, revving up for the launch of the new Amanda Cadabra novel. Let the revelry commence!

The Change

Cork board with two yellow notes pinned to it with red pins. Each has a lightbulb on it but the right hand one is biggerAt 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?

Why?

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.

Old history books in low lightAs 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.

Coast of Cornwall in sunshine. Green grass and turquoise seaOn Location

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.

Coming Soon

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.

Back soon.

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

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

 

 

 

 

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