15 October, 2023.

The Moment of Truth. Waiting …

I never know when or where it’s going to happen. It’s not something I can plan. I can’t sit down at my desk and make it occur. I can only wait until …What? It’s that magical moment when the new cozy mystery plot arrives, the pivotal point that links together all of the scenes, conversations, anecdotes, character sketches, chapters here and there. Suddenly the connections, the whys and who’s, begin to emerge.

Trying to Encourage it

Well, as you know, I had 5,000 words of components scattered around my literary garage, but how to make a vehicle out of them? A mechanical magic carpet that will transport you to the puzzles, delights, adventures, and suspense of Amanda Cadabra’s world.

As The Moment of Revelation had yet to manifest itself, I intended to prompt it with the next stage, which involves printing out what I’ve got so far and inspecting it.


However, on Thursday morning on a damp day here in London, the most uninspiring of weather, yet out of the blue, the ideas began to emerge. By the end of two hours, I knew what and where.

As to who to murderer is, I haven’t yet decided. I have a number of suspects. The Guilty Party will emerge in due course. The precise details of those who it could be will likewise arise, but I can now see the players, the pieces on the chessboard.

I now have an additional 2,000 words of cozy mystery plot notes, and in the following days, the next stage begins. More of that next time.

New Video

That’s the big news, but also, here is the next video in the series Fabulous Foreigners – Do You Speak English? This traces the sometimes-rocky path of the writer (including me) from first decisions about the kind of English they will use, choices that will affect spelling, like UK or US English, regional accents and foreign accents. So today, we must decide: what do we mean by ‘foreigner’?

Click to to go video What is Foreign? Part 3 of Fabulous Foreigners in Fiction


Missed the first two? Solved: you can catch up with Part 1 here: https://amandacadabra.com/ac1-trailer/decisions-decisions-fab-foreigners/

and Part 2 here: https://amandacadabra.com/ac1-trailer/fabulous-foreigners-in-fiction-which-uk-english/

This Week’s Puzzle

Meanwhile, here is this week’s cozy mystery character jigsaw puzzle. This is a depiction of one of the villagers closest to Amanda’s heart, one of three ever to be found in the legendary Corner Shop, heart of Sunken Madley and its Intelligence HQ. You can find hints and tips on using the puzzle underneath it.

Puzzle 3 15 October 2023


Frolics with The Bot (to bring you pretty pics)

Finally, this week’s shenanigans with the AI bot, trying to persuade it to create the image, for the video above, of Gordon French warning Amanda about ‘foreigners’, meaning those are ‘not Village’. I requested a picture of ‘a retired headmaster carrying a walking stick, talking to a pretty young girl dressed in a boiler suit, standing in a sunny English village.’ Each time, it supplies four different versions of its interpretation of the prompt.

Amanda and retired headmaster of Sunken Madley School, Gordon Fren ch

It didn’t seem to grasp the concept of ‘a walking stick’ and so had dodged that one. Consequently, after a little research, I tried, variously ‘walking cane’, ‘stick’, ‘cane’, and ‘holding’, ‘carrying’, and ‘using’. It offered me a short dowel, an abbreviated pointy branch and nothing at all. On one pass, it did manage to supply Mr French with a support in the form of a forked stick. I could undoubtedly Photoshop out one of the tines, but why, oh, why, had Bot given him a small spade? Who mentioned ‘spade’? Let’s try again ….  Hm, no walking stick. However, for some obscure reason, it had furnished Amanda with a spear. Or was it a javelin? And why was it apparently setting the scene in 1940?

Wardrobe Malfunctions

For Amanda’s costume, I asked for an orange dress, and the best I got was an orange skirt, but she still looked like something out of a vintage children’s book. I tried getting her into the green boilersuit that she works in. No joy. Coveralls? Overalls? Flightsuit? It was attiring her in a green skirt, green dress or green coat. I tried asking for green trousers and a shirt. It put them on Mr French.

A Different Approach

I decided to go from the top in easy steps with a fresh prompt. ‘A girl in a green flight suit’. Success! ‘Talking to a retired headmaster.’ Why is he in some sort of military uniform? Let’s just keep adding more instructions and see if it corrects itself. ‘In an English village’. Oh dear, we’re back in 1940. Quick! Retrench. ‘A modern young woman in a green flight suit talking to a retired headmaster carrying a walking stick, standing in an English village. It is sunny. It is the twenty-first century’. Aha, breakthrough! Finally, all of the components are there except the walking stick. Well, we’ll pretend it’s on the arm facing away from the camera and leave it at that.

Next Week

Coming up: a new cozy mystery puzzle, the next in the Fabulous Foreigners in Fiction series of videos, more antics with AI and news from the Sequel Front.

Happy Leaf-turning (or growing) Season,



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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

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About the Author

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Cat adorer and chocolate lover. Holly Bell's life changed in a day. A best-selling author friend telephoned and convinced her, that after years of penning non-fiction, she could write cozy paranormal mysteries. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Holly lives in the UK and is a photographer and video maker when not writing. Her favourite cat is called Bobby. He is black. Like her favourite hat. Purely coincidental.