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Open book on desk by candleight with cameo milestone. Text: Burning The Midnight Oil, Audiobook Progress, and thanks t you for a new milestone

AudioBook Progress by Night, and 500 Readers to Thank

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

25% discount 11-14 December Book 1 Paperback

Breaking the Sound Barrier and A Christmas Discount Today

Dear Readers,

Aiming High

As I confided a few weeks ago, I was reembarking on a project to bring the books to you in an extra dimension. It began three years ago, when I wheeled out the old horn and wax cylinder in response to a request from readers: sound. In other words, audiobooks.

That was the Vision, which expanded with each additional sequel. So what happened?

Here’s a bit of audiobook background so that you’re in the know. To have an audiobook published through Amazon, whereon the series dwells in ebook and paperback formats, you must go through a company called ACX. Think: receptionist to doctor, PA to boss, or priest to deity. The quality standards are as high as you can get.

The Sound Barrier – An Audio Mystery

ACX wants you to succeed in your recordings and pull out all the stops to help you get it right. (Here’s a link if you’d like to explore the idea for yourself: ACX.) I recorded a sample from Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth in the early days and sent it in. It snagged on the vital ‘noise floor’. In short, there was a hiss and gurgle running like a backing track. The question was, what was causing it?

I went to the company that made my microphone, and they kindly replaced it for me. No change. Hiss, gurgle. They gave me a refund, and I upgraded. Same issue. The company, Rode, could not have been more helpful. There were things they suggested to try.

Testing, Testing – On The Trail

I acquired an isolation shield, which is a sponge semi-amphitheatre wall, about a foot high that on a stand that sits behind the mic. The issue persisted. Rode replaced the mic. No change. I recorded when the neighbours were out, with all appliances switched off. No change. Rode suggested I try recording in the car on a quiet street to test if the problem was environmental. This was a step forward. It made no difference but nevertheless, environmental issues could be ruled out.

That brings us to 2022 and the time of Book 7, Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree. As launch neared, I pondered having another crack at solving the mystery of the snake-and-water backing singers. I did an emotional test run. I imagined working on the audio project. Joy factor: 2 out of 10. I imagined writing the next book. Joy factor: 10 out of 10. I wrote Book 8.

Narrowing It Down

During the penning of the aforementioned oeuvre, I did, however, give some thought to the mystery. It seemed that there could be only one culprit: the computer on which I was recording. Actually, I have two machines and was getting the issue on both. Therefore the test would be to hire a different, and upgraded, computer for a week and do some test recordings.

Meanwhile, Book 8 progressed, Amanda Cadabra and The Nightstairs. Some four weeks ago, launch day arrived.

And then …

A day or two later, it became clear that my iMac was in urgent need of a long-awaited upgrade. A certain vital app would no longer run, and the desktop was heating up enough to double as a hot plate that would have turned out a respectably cooked egg and bacon. I spoke to Apple, who put me in touch with an approved repairer not far away. I paused only to create the post-launch thank you post and video, booked an appointment and heaved my mighty desktop thence.

With 5-star service, the computer was soon upgraded with a shiny new hard drive. I can no longer imagine making breakfast on it, as it is currently, and joyfully, running cool to warm. And so … I could now do the all-important audio test. With the upgraded hardware and audio app …. Would there be an improvement?

The Test

Before dawn, when all was silent, I rose and stealthily prepared my mic, computer, and environment and, as a test, read the first chapter of Book 7 (which I have yet to mould into the fit-to-be-heard video for you, but it’s in the pipeline.)

Breathless with anticipation, I played it back. It was the cleanest sound I’d produced in three years! There was just a soft intermittant hiss. I edited out the reading mistakes from the first three minutes and sent off the sample to a skilled sound engineer, whom I shall call Mike, in the US. I waited …


In the watches of the following night, on account of the time difference, I heard back from Mike. He had done a thorough job on the sample, removing any breaths, mouth noise, background noise, and adjusted the pacing a little to produce a perfect recording. Mike attached a spreadsheet showing it would pass ACX standards. He was also reassuring about my setup, saying that the intermittent hiss was just the USB mic effect and he could take care of it. It was too late to call friends with the news, and I had to content myself with a little dance and celebratory cocoa.

So Far?

And so … I have now begun recording Book 1. Progress so far? About 10% of the way through. It’s a slow business. For every hour of recording there can be up to three hours of editing. I need plenty of breaks, and timing is of the essence: when the neighbours are out or asleep, and when there is no street noise. If possible, I would like to finish by the end of next month. We shall see. One day I shall dwell in a five (at least) detached establishment of my own Grand Designing somewhere in the north of London. Meanwhile, I have charming neighbours with whom to share borders. They make only normal sounds emanating from everyday life, but even those need to be absent for a sufficiently clean recording.

The audioboook project has moved from beached to into the stream. How fast flowing, we shall see. I shall be posting my progress on the Holly Bell Facebook page and landmarks here.

25% off Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth by Holly Bell Sunday to Wednesday 11-14th December 2022A Christmas Present

Meanwhile …

For those of you in search of a last-minute present for a loved one with a fondness for a cozy mystery, the paperback edition Book 1 in the cozy mystery series, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, is discounted by 25% from today until Wednesday. (Most of the rest of the price goes towards the printing cost.) This is my Winter Festival gift to you. Hope it helps out. There is another project in the wings relating to the first in the series about which I shall bring you more news in the new year.

Book 9, having delivered itself of the first chapter and a good part of the plot, has gone for reviving nap. This is fortunate as it allows me to concentrate on the audio recording.

Thank you for sharing the audiobook journey with me. With luck and a following wind, we are now possibly weeks away from the fulfilment of the sound and the first manifestation of the Vision.

Back soon with Yuletide wishes and Sound news,

Until then …

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

Link image for Thank You Video

A Thank You Present For You, and The New Sequel Launch Report

Dear Readers,Old sailing ship stern with Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree as the name

The new book in the series, number 7, Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree, was duly christened, released from its moorings and slid down the slipway into open water last Sunday. It now flies its cozy paranormal mystery flag high, thanks to everyone who has so kindly reviewed, bought or downloaded it so far.

How Did it Go?

It went well, especially considering that the occasion landed on Mother’s Day when most people who might have been online were busy with family. Why release it on that day, then? Because I had promised to bring out the book in March, and the 27th was the last one on the shelf.

Nevertheless, the new book has more sales than any of its predecessors on their launch days. The free offer of Book 6, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, had some 2,800 downloads which I’d say is respectable. Out of that number, hopefully, a goodly percentage will stay with the series and continue the voyage with us.

And Now, Your Gift

This is for you. My thank you for your support in all its wondrous forms. Your name may be mentioned here, but the point is that if you’re reading this, then you are definitely included. I hope that you like it. It comes from the heart.


Link image for Thank You Video

Next Time?

I will be back, possibly with a new collection of photos I have mentally entitled ‘Spring Comes To Sunken Madley’. A new project beckons. One that I have essayed in the past, but this time there is a better possibility of success than ever before. We shall see. I hope to bring you news in due course. In the meantime, if you’d like to keep in touch, you can find my email in the Contact section or find me mainly on Facebook. I’m always joyfully moved to hear from you..

Happy Spring (or Autumn depending),



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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

ereader on left with Book 7 with gold sticker: Free 27, 28th March. Book 7 in ereader and paperback on the right. Champagne glass behind. Text: Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree Today! From Amazon

Launch Day! Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree

Dear Reader,

It’s Here!

You can find the new sequel in the Amanda Cadabra cozy mystery series on Amazon from today. Yes, it’s a sequel (Book 7) but it’s also a standalone, so you can jump in with  Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree. The Kindle edition is at a 20% discount today.

A Double Launch

If you prefer your books touchy feely, as I do, for the first time (drumroll …) simultaneously with the ebook, the paperback edition is launching too today! You can find it here:



Plus, free today and tomorrow from Amazon, you can download the previous volume, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr. This story is set in Cornwall and is also a standalone.

It would be superb if you could also spread the word and share the coziness.

Movie Time

Now here is the launch video, for your entertainment.


Back next time with news of how it went today and a little thank you present for all your support.

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

Green veil partially covering open book showing Chapter 1 of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree

Launch Date and Chapter 1 Revealed – Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree

Dear Reader,

Microphone and text: AnnouncingThe Launch Date is Confirmed

The official release of of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree, will be on  Sunday, 27th March. With just 3 days to go, here is the penultimate revelation: Chapter 1, laid bare below.

What Does Chapter 1 Mean?

There is something special about having written the first chapter of a novel. It isn’t usually the first part of a new book that I write, you see. The opening scene or paragraphs may come to me early on in the process, but the rest of the chapter could take its time. However, when it is in place, the collection of notes – scenes, dialogue, even a complete chapter here and there ­– suddenly, in my mind, becomes ‘The Book’. There is the feeling of acceleration and the certainty that it will, at some point, go forth into the world of dear readers, fully formed.

As so, it is about to happen. What can you expect on Sunday?

Book 7 in Paperback and ebook, 20% discount voucher for new book, free book 6 and launch videoSunday’s Line-up

The brand new Book 7 Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree, the standalone sequel, will be available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback.

The Kindle edition will be available, for a limited time, at a 20% discount.

Book 6, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, will be free to download for the day and Monday.

Oh, and of course, there will be a launch display video for your entertainment.

For You

Finally, I would like to thank you for your patience. Almost immediately after Book 6 was published, some of you loyal readers were asking for the next in the series. Now, I am delighted to say that the new book’s release into your hands is just hours away.

Until Sunday, I leave you with this. Just scroll down and you will be transported to the world of Sunken Madley with:



Scroll: Chapter 1, Amanda's Unusual Talent


It was difficult to make out what it was. The fog was being compounded by smoke from a nearby garden bonfire. Amanda ventured closer. Oh … just a sack of old leaves, wasn’t it? Probably from last autumn. Strange though. It wasn’t like Irene to be untidy.

Another few steps, No … She stood stock-still, the mist clinging to her skin. Amanda looked up at the branch above her … then down at the form beneath. The rope attached to it lay there like a pale dead snake. … Surely not … not this. … not here …


The day began promisingly. Amanda awoke naturally after a full night’s sleep to the song of the blackbird; there’d been some hazy dream or other. One of the downsides of being a back-sleeper was that she often surfaced to find a cat on her stomach. And not just any cat. Tempest, her familiar, was thick-furred in a collection of storm greys, citrine-eyed and constitutionally disgruntled.

Tempest, sensing his human was stirring, moved up to her chest and pushed his head out from under the quilt. Amanda smiled blearily, rubbing one blue eye, and stroked his head.

‘Good morning, Tempest.’

He stared at her meaningfully.

‘Yes, I know,’ she acknowledged tolerantly, ‘Breakfast. I must get up anyway. I have magic practice.’

Forty minutes later found Amanda, clad in green boiler suit and trainers, mouse-brown hair in a messy plait, kneeling on the floor of her furniture restoration workshop. But not yet engaged in restoration. She was instead screwing spare antique bow handles next to the four edges of an old flat-surfaced door. Observing Amanda, with a mixture of ennui and amusement, was Tempest.

‘There,’ she pronounced optimistically, ‘that should do it. First, a test run.’

Aerevel ynentel,’ she pronounced, and the door rose gently into the air until she halted its progress with ‘sessiblin’ and landed it with ‘sedaasig.’ This was Amanda’s particular gift, inherited through Perran, her grandfather, from the Cadabras. Since his elopement with Senara, née Cardiubarn, of the nefarious neighbouring witch-clan, he had been, ostensibly, estranged from his family. Yet, he had never regretted the union with his beloved Senara.

Of course, as far as the village was concerned, the couple were now, in what the ‘transitioned’ regarded as vulgar parlance: dead. They were, in fact, enjoying a somewhat different plane of existence, from which they made frequent visits either spontaneously or at Amanda’s request.

However, currently she and Tempest were the sole occupants of the workshop. It was here, where Perran had taught all, or at least, most of what he knew to Amanda, to whom he had bequeathed it together with the Vauxhall Astra. The vehicle was in British racing green, and along each side bore the legend in gold script: Cadabra Furniture Restoration and Repairs.

His granddaughter was presently regarding the door on the floor with satisfaction coupled with a degree of hesitation.

‘Good,’ she pronounced. ‘And now ….’

Amanda took a deep breath and stepped onto the door, sat down, and took hold of each of the two handles on the long sides. She focused and issued the command,

Aerevel ynentel.’ Amanda opened her eyes wide at the strange sensation of rising off the floor, inch by inch. Distracted, she lost her concentration, the surface tilted wildly, and she cried out instinctively,

‘Grandpa! Help me!’

Instantly a tall, silver-haired man appeared and, smiling, steadied her with a gesture and landed the door.

‘Oh, thank you,’ said Amanda with relief, putting a hand to her chest. Then, as a shocking thought occurred to her, she added, ‘Grandpa, did you put a spell on me?’ Casting magic on humans was absolutely vetoed. It had got her, and even the village of Sunken Madley, into far too much trouble in the past.

‘No, bian,’ Perran Cadabra assured Amanda, addressing her by his pet name for her, Cornish for ‘baby’, ‘just the board and the air around you.’ Calmed by his soft accent, hailing from the far south-west of the British Isles, and unfailingly kindly manner, she sighed,

‘Ah.’ Now, her tell was clear to see. In the presence of magic, the tiny brown islands in the sea of her blue eyes expanded into continents. Her close-work glasses helped to hide it, but anyone who knew what to look for could observe the singular effect.

‘All right?’ asked Grandpa. ‘Ready to try again? Just an inch or two off the ground this time.’

‘Yes … I don’t have all that long to practice, by the way.’

‘I know,’ replied Grandpa, nodding. ‘You’re meeting the inspector at a quarter past nine to give him the official Sunken Madley tour.’

‘That’s right. Ok, I’m ready. Back on the horse. Or, should I say … door?’


The somewhat wayward village of Sunken Madley, to which Detective Inspector Thomas Trelawney of the Devon and Cornwall Police was now assigned, lay 13 miles to the north of the Houses of Parliament, and three miles south of the border of Hertfordshire. Its roots in the rural landscape, from which it had grown over a period of 800 years, were still in evidence to those who cared to look. It was embraced by ancient orchards and the sheltering Madley Wood. The village was a long way in every sense from the Cornish coastal town where Trelawney had been born and bred.

The inspector was a study in unobtrusiveness, in classic, well-cut grey suit and quiet, self-patterned matching tie. His short, light-brown hair was neither styled in a dated manner nor at the edge of current fashion. His features were pleasant, he was well-spoken, accentless, his manner mild and courteous. The sort of man, Amanda had often thought, one did not notice, until one really noticed.

Trelawney looked at his watch. He decided that he had sufficient time to make a diversion to The Corner Shop for a snack pack of almonds. There’d been a toaster crisis at his mother’s – which had been the school-holidays home of his youth after his parents’ divorce – and breakfast had turned into a rather vague affair.

His arrival at the nerve centre of the village coincided with the approach of Dennis Hanley-Page, a septuagenarian whose exuberant progress through life was entirely uninterrupted by the passing of the years.

Dennis was at that moment manifesting his eclectic musical taste. The final few bars of Rock the Casbah by The Clash echoed down the street, followed by the opening of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, as Dennis approached at 70 miles per hour. A red Triumph Spitfire, Dennis’s latest acquisition as proprietor of Vintage Vehicles, raced into view. The village had somehow managed to maintain a legacy speed limit from either the 1930’s or 70’s. Trelawney was simply grateful that he was not there to police the traffic, and entered The Corner Shop, while Dennis parked and secured his car.

Ding! The door heralded the inspector’s entrance.

‘Pen hates therapists,’ Joan the postlady was saying to Mrs Sharma, proprietor, and Sylvia, the hi-vis-vest-clad octogenarian lollipop lady. She was but recently arrived at the establishment from her labours of safely ushering the school children across the road. This duty she performed with the aid of her round stop sign on a long pole, hence her job title.

‘Hello, Inspector,’ they chorused in warm welcome. Joan brought him up to speed.

‘We’re talking about the new renter of the Sharma’s shop at the end of the High Street here. And I was about to say as no one could hate our new therapist. He’s a sweetie.’

‘Oh I know,’ enjoined Sylvia. ‘That would be like hating … Mother Theresa.’

‘Or Stephen Fry,’ returned Joan.

Ding! went the shop door.

‘Or Dolly Parton,’ chimed in Dennis, debonairly sweeping off his tweed cap. ‘Everyone likes Dolly Parton.’

‘We know you do,’ returned Sylvia with a grin, after they had greeted him.

‘Well,’ commented Joan, ‘my Jim says what with my hair and my curves, that I’m a tall, size 16 ringer for Dolly, bless ‘im.’

‘You’ve got a good man there, Joan,’ Sylvia remarked.

‘Oh, I have, I have. You know, when we was courting, and I mighta told you this story before …’

Trelawney was aware of the time and his appointment with his landlady-to-be and his new partner Miss Cadabra. However, he was even more conscious of his new status in the village, with its upgrade from ‘Honorary Village’ to ‘Village’. He had been warned that Sunken Madley was not like his Cornish home town of Parhayle, and they would have their own pace.

This was the last place he’d expected to end up and the last business he’d ever imagined he’d be embroiled in. Detective Inspector Thomas Trelawney had regarded magic as a lot of mumbo jumbo and himself as a modern man, living in a modern world, solving modern, and also admittedly age-old, crimes, with the aid of modern techniques.

And then …

To be continued in Chapter 2

I hope that you enjoyed that. See you on Sunday.

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

Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree book in the light of a projector

New Book Trailer – Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree

Dear Readers,

Here Goes The Fifth Veil

As I wrote to you last time, the process of bringing out a new novel is a dance, The Dance of the Seven Veils. With the news that the new book is in the offing, the title reveal, the partial and then the full cover reveals, the first four have wafted to the floor. And now, for the fifth, the trailer:


Click to go to trailer video for Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree by Holly Bell

On Location With The Trailer

I hope that you enjoyed the film. Some of it was shot especially for such an event, including the footage at the beginning, which was recorded in the picturesque village of Aldenham in Hertfordshire. On the Inspiration page, you can see some photographs from there. The video was shot from opposite the church, which dates from the 13th century and looks over the spacious village green. The final village scene was captured in another Hertfordshire village: Letchworth Common. For the rest of the trailer, I have several talented photographers to thank, who are credited at the end of the video.

If you are curious about my process for creating these trailers, you can read about it here: making movies

The Sixth Veil

Next time, a little peep inside the book: Chapter 1 of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree, right here. And now I must be off, to prepare for The Seventh Veil, the launch video.

Happy Spring,



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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Cover reveal. Book on table covered by a gold cloth, except for the top right hand corner. Misty wood in the background

Cover Reveal – Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree

Dear Readers,

The Curtains Part

The cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree is revealed!

Cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree, new sequel. Amanda leaning aound a tree in the mist looking down at the roots and a top. Tempest the cat is by her feet looking with irritation in the same direction. Full cover reveal. The book stands on a table with misty trees in the background

 Who Dunnit?

All credit must go to our esteemed and talented illustrator and visual developer, Daniel Becerril Ureña. Daniel has travelled the world, enhancing his skills as an artist, bringing to the Amanda Cadabra series a blend of drama and cosiness that is a perfect fit. All of the books have had the full Ureña treatment except for Book 3. Hence, a new cover for Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan is a treat anticipated for this year.

How does a new cover come into being? you may ask. If you’d like to discover the process, I described it in exciting detail when the last sequel, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, was in the making: Cover Magic

I would love to know your reactions to the look of the new book. Please let me know, in the comments, on Facebook or, my favourite, by email.


The Seven Veils

I like to think of the emergence of each new story as a dance. Not just any dance: the Dance of the Seven Veils during which they are dropped one by one. The first falls when the announcement comes that a new book is in the making. The second is cast off with the title reveal, which was two weeks ago. In the last Letter to Readers, veil number three was let fall with the partial cover reveal. Today, the fourth veil is relinquished as the cover is displayed for your enjoyment. Next week, the fifth veil is lifted for the trailer. After that, the penultimate covering is drawn off as the first chapter is laid out here. Finally, the last veil flutters to the ground: the launch.


The fifth veil. Heypressto, the publisher of the Amanda Cadabra series, under the aegis of Chartreuse, will be bringing you the trailer video for Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree.

Happy Mid-March,



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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Partial Cover Reveal – New Cozy Mystery Sequel – 3 Treats for Launch Day

Dear Readers,

A Veil is Dropped

This week it’s time for the partial cover reveal of Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree.

Gift-wrapped book on wooden table with cup of coffee on the left with a white hat and daffodils in the bottom left hand corner. Leaf shaped cutout in the gift wrap showing Amanda's face looking towards the ground with surprise

 What to Expect: Three Bonuses

Over the coming days, not necessarily just on Sunday, there will be a string of reveals: the full cover, the trailer and the first chapter, leading up to launch day.

There will be three special events for this release. First, we are working on releasing the paperback on the same day as the ebook.

New Sequel with partial cover reveal as ebook and paperback

Second, one of the books in the series will be free on the day of the launch.

Third, there will be a 20% discount for a limited period on the new book.


Spring Comes To Sunken Madley

Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree begins almost the day of the release, at this time of year. At the end of the previous book, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, the village, Amanda and Trelawney, enjoyed the Spring Equinox Ball. Join them as they move through the end of the month and April towards the May Day Ball. Here is a visual reminder of our village at this time of year to be going on with.

Happy Spring!



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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Trunk on cottage doorstep. Lid open with light shining out illuminating text: New Sequel Title Reveal in white on black

Title Reveal – New Cozy Mystery Sequel

Dear Readers,

The Unveiling

Here it is at last. The day has come. This is where it begins: the run-up to the launch. And the title of Book 7 in the Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mystery Series is …

Title Reveal of the New Amanda Cadabra Sequel. Gold and white text on green enclosed in rope border: Amanda Cadabra and The Hanging Tree

What next?

Today I got the new pass of the cover illustration from Daniel. It’s a final tweak away from being The One. So next stop is the partial cover reveal.

The manuscript is back from Kim, our diligent and intuitive editor, and from our superb team of VIP Readers who have read and checked the book for any amendments. My sincere thanks go out to each of you who have kindly given your time and attention to helping polish the new book to a gleaming shine.

Now it’s time to make those adjustments so that it will be as near perfect fit as possible for both you valued existing cozy readers and new ones yet to join us.

News to come: the surprise I have in mind for Launch Day.

Back soon.

Happy End of Winter (or Summer, depending)


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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

New Sequel Launch Engine Firing Up

Dear Readers,

The New Sequel?

I hear you ask. Quite rightly too.

Please excuse the brief hibernation. I hope you enjoyed Valentine’s Day, which I also like to call Friends’ Day. Meanwhile, my love for you, my readers, and Amanda Cadabra is undiminished. But actions speak louder than words, so what have I been doing about bringing you the new sequel?

Words and Art

At the end of last month, I finished the manuscript, and it went out to Kim, our esteemed editor. Next, the front and back matter was edited: the British-American English glossary was updated, and a new plan and a new map were created. This version of the manuscript was sent to the VIP Reader Group (beta readers). That same weekend, a summary of the story went to Daniel Becerril Ureña, our talented cover illustrator.

At this point, I always fondly imagine that I can put my feet up, draw breath, and relax. The train is in the shed. The coal needs to be delivered. The engine needs to checked and tested. In other words, it is at this very moment that I realise how much I need to do to prepare for the launch.

Clapperboard leaning against a treePretty as Pictures

There is a series of Letters to Readers to come. And they all need spectacular images. So, I have been creating: the title reveal, the partial cover reveal, and the cover reveal. Next, the trailer video needs to be conjured.

All of these projects require many hours of research to find the perfect video clips and images. Images have to be edited into slides. Some of the clips have been shot by Chartreuse or me. They have to be carefully chosen. The video project has to be compiled, sequenced, timed, edited, and transitions and titles added. What remains to be done? The opening, closing, credits and music.

The All-important … Cover

The initial sketches arrived from Daniel: seven possible covers. I made a shortlist of three, and he did more work on them to help me decide. As soon as I saw that next wave, the choice of The One was clear. Since then, Daniel has created further layers, and with each of those, I am able to see what tweaks are needed. This morning I sent back what could be the last list. We are now close to the final version.

The cover illustration, once completed, can then be slotted into the video, and, naturally, the cover reveals.

Greasing the Wheels

Meanwhile, there are technical blips to be sorted out that require hours of consultation, but it’s a pleasure to work with dedicated, professional people. The website has to be bright and shiny for any who like to visit and browse the trailers, other videos, first chapters, maps, quizzes, glossaries, Wicc’Yeth dictionary, free prequel or past Letters to Readers.

It’s tremendously absorbing and creative fun. It does, however, take time and patience (especially technical malarkey!). Nevertheless, all of these projects are rewarding in various ways.

The Latest

The manuscript came back from Kim the day before yesterday. I savour going through her notes. Most of the treasured VIP readers have sent back their notes for me. It is a great joy to touch base with all of you, by the way, and I will be creating a special thank you.

Launch then?

We are now around three weeks from launch, give or take a week or two at the most. I like to allow plenty of room for manoeuvre at this stage so that the process remains enjoyable for everyone involved.

The closer we get to pulling all of the threads together, the more specific I can be. And I like to add a little surprise, which I’m working on. However, the train is out of the shed and stands at the platform. The coal wagon is piled high. The engine is firing up.

In the Waiting Room

Here is something new to be going on with. The paperback for Book 2 now has its new cover, and here it is. You can only see this here unless you acquire the actual book. (Personally, I prefer actual tangible volumes that I can hold and mark and love and put on my shelf. I have some that I think of as my oldest friends.)

Can you see what Daniel has so cleverly created? The scene on the front shows a devastated old pub. The back cover rewinds time to when it was pristine. I was charmed when I saw this for the first time.

The next Letter to you, hopefully, next weekend, will be announcing the title of the new sequel. The whistle is about to blow.

Happy February,


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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