29 January, 2023.

Dear Readers,

Cutting To The Chase

‘What of the audiobook of Book 1 and the next sequel,’ I hear you ask. ‘Do get to the point.’ Indeed. During the last month of radio silence, I assure you I have not been idle. Before I amaze you with just how far the recording of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth has progressed, I shall supply you with some helpful context.


The Rhythm of Reading


The context is pre-editing. Yes, I do have a splendid sound engineer in the US; however, before the recording wings its way to his inbox, I need to edit out the reading mistakes. For example:


‘” Once upon a type” ‘… ah … let me read that again …’ “Once upon a dime” ‘… once more:’ “Once upon a time …”’


You get the idea. So I just have to delete the wrong versions and splice the two good ends together (digitally). Simple, yes? Actually, it is rather more complicated.


When we read aloud, and you may have done this with stories to children, we allow strategic pauses. This is most noticeable between paragraphs, scene breaks or chapters. But also for effect. Here’s an example:


 The Dramatic Pause


‘“On her sixteenth birthday, the princess shall prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die!” uttered the sorceress.’


Here we would naturally pause before reading:


 ‘A horrified hush fell upon the court.’


Make that pause too long, and the impact dissipates; too short, and the drama of the moment is lost.


So when splicing the two ends together on either side of the deleted section, there is some fine-tuning to be done. This involves listening and adjusting, listening and adjusting. And it takes time. So, as far as pre-editing is concerned, I am now up to chapter 8 out of 47 chapters. 


Percent symbol formed by clouds in blue skyRevealing the Numbers


That said, chapter 1 is left until the end, when, hopefully, I shall be significantly improved in my reading through sheer practice, and one other chapter, which I shall confide shortly. So that is 6 out of 47, which is (unearths ancient calculator) 12.76%.


However, the most important thing is to get the reading in the can, as it were. And now, hopefully, to impress you … 75%!


What I Didn’t Plan For

The rogue chapter, so to speak, is (looks for book) Chapter 13: Dr Bergstrom’s Invention and The Power of Petite. Spoiler alert for those of you yet to read this. This is where Amanda receives her wand from a Swedish magical scientist. It introduces that new character and includes some actual Swedish. Here’s the catch. When I wrote it, I had no idea that one day I would have to read it. Aloud. For an audiobook.


“It’s Got To Be …”


I’m not sure about ‘perfect’, but good enough so that Swedish speakers or readers who have contact with Swedish or Swedes find it credible and do not raise their hands in horror at the desecration of their language. I have listened to some instructive YouTubes on performing the Swedish accent, but this isn’t the same as personal tuition.


Fortunately, I have a Danish friend who is sufficiently well acquainted with the Swedish accent to be able to coach me. From this week, he will have time to go through the chapter to prepare for my reading. I hope that all of you with a Swedish connection who listen to the book will be happy with the result.


Before The Dawn


In the title of this Letter To Readers, you will have noticed the word ‘Night’. Yes, indeed, I have been burning the midnight oil in the worthy cause of bringing The Sound of Amanda Cadabra to my esteemed listeners-to-be. To be more precise, between 4 am and 6 am when possible.


This is when there is, usually, silence, which is, as we know, golden. And you don’t appreciate just how golden until it is a scarce commodity. It does take a certain amount of enthusiasm to leave a warm bed and rise to the English pre-dawn winter temperatures, hydrate, set up and … perform. Nevertheless, my desire to bring you the finished product and the promising progress inspires me.


However, as I am editing, I hear the occasional need for a retake of a word which may not be clear. Just a few, to be glued into place. Also, my kind Danish Swedish coach has agreed to listen to the completed recording to ensure everything is in order before it is dispatched across The Pond.




I do have a time-frame in mind but not set in stone. I hope to complete the recording in the next two weeks. Then it’s over to the editing desk. My aspiration is (aspiration, please note) to complete that by the end of February. Once it is with the excellent sound engineer, it is a question of how long it will be  before it is ready to submit to ACX, who mediate audiobooks for Amazon. (I am getting excited just writing about that stage!) and how much time they will need to process it. I gather that they take about 2 weeks. There is one more component: the cover art. That will be in the purview of our talented illustrator Daniel, who will adapt the book cover. I intend to send the request to him this week.

In summary, I am hoping for publication this season. I shall keep you posted. I tend to do interim alerts on my Holly Bell Author page on Facebook.


500 Followers500 Thank Yous


Which brings me neatly to my abundant cause for appreciation. During the flurry of the launch of Book 8, Amanda Cadabra and The Nightstairs, and the, er, excitement of my computer upgrade, a significant landmark was reached. The number of followers on the Holly Bell Author Facebook page reached and passed 500.


This was an intensely emotional moment. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to every one of you, whether reader, reader-to-be or supporter, who has joined my page. Please know that you are not a number to me; you are a valued person, most likely with many other calls on your schedule, many interests, and books to read, and your time spent with me on my page is treasured. So, thank dear Readers. I have made a special post there to say this, and just in case you have yet to see it, my thanks are expressed here, to make doubly sure that you know that your contribution to the Amanda Cadabra journey is noted and appreciated.




Yes, indeed, it is still in progress. Every now and again, I get a trickle of inspiration, an idea, a seed. It is forming, gestating. Working title? So far: Book 9. And it’s set mainly in Cornwall. It has at least one murder. I know where that takes place. Whodunit? I have a fair idea about that too. I have also envisaged a grand scene with involves considerable suspense. But I must not get too carried away. I have an audiobook to finish first!


That’s all for the moment. I shall be back with more audio progress and the fruits of a field trip I intend to make as soon as I have a radiantly sunny, ice-free day. Meanwhile …


Happy Reading,




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.