Sharing with you
A smile, a greeting, good wishes, cards or gifts, this, especially, is the time of year for sharing. You may not know this, but writers who sell their books on Amazon make very little on paperbacks (we have to pay the printing costs out of our percentage of the royalties). But, what I have I’m sharing with you. To make your giving a little easier, you can get a ten per cent discount during a short window.
For just 72 hours from Monday to Wednesday 10 – 12th December here’s help with your Christmas shopping. If you order now, you can be sure of getting that cozy fan present in time for the big day.
Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan. The story takes place over Christmas, and if you’re new to the book or the series, expect action, magic, laughter, surprises and bookish delight. (For those of you familiar with it, yes, it does have a brand new cover!)
Although this is the third novel in the British humorous cozy paranormal mystery series, each adventure is self-contained, with its own puzzle and er … body! It’s a by-the-fire (or in the hammock, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere) read for the winter before, during or after Yule.
Do you know someone who’d love an asthmatic, furniture-restoring young witch tackling a body wrapped in an enigma, with a dash of danger, topped off with a happy ending? Maybe a future fan of the genre? The most important thing is that you sign it to them with love.
And here is a little video about it to watch or send:
For a stocking filler, either for you or someone you to want to treat, the kindle version will have its own couple of free days just before Christmas Day. (Dates to be announced soon!) Sometimes you need that last-minute present or a little luxury to reward yourself what you may have put into making the occasion special.
Amanda Cadabra Book 5: 1000 words
On the writing front, I have news for you. Last night, I wrote the first 1000 words of Book 5. How did it happen? How does it feel? That is a story for another post.
Meanwhile, happy sparkles in the dark days.
PS If you want to start the series:
Today, here is the much-anticipated release of the video of the church and choir of Monken Hadley.
When I began formulating the very first book in the series, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, before I had a title in mind or a location, I knew that I wanted an English village that I, as a city girl, born and bred, could understand. That is, a place with a richly diverse cultural mix of inhabitants which reflects the big cities of the UK and London in particular. So a hamlet on the outskirts of the metropolis would be ideal. It needed to be historic, green and pleasant. I studied the map and found a possible candidate. As soon as I drove into it, I knew that I had found my village. As the books are not about the actual place or any of the people who live or work there – and I knew no one there at that time – and the book is fiction, I didn’t want to use the real name: Monken Hadley. However, I wanted something that it inspired and, as the series is light-hearted, something comical. Hence, Sunken Madley.
And so it came into being. Over the months, I visited and met the kindly folk of the village and was overwhelmed by their support, interest and generous co-operation in my literary, photographic and videographic endeavours. When one or two referred to me as ‘our author’ I was deeply moved. The people whom I have met have made me feel like an honorary villager, and I hope that the series does their beautiful location every credit and brings as much pleasure to you, dear reader, as it does to me in the creation of it.
The video was filmed in the beautiful medieval church of St Mary the Virgin, Monken Hadley. It includes clips of the musical director Stephen Tatlow, without whom I would not have been able to bring this to your screens, rehearsing and conducting the choir singing for The Nine Lessons at Christmas last year. The song is in Latin, Gaudete, a carol of rejoicing. The image shows a page from the Piae Cantiones, a Swedish-Finnish sacred song collection from the sixteenth century.
If you think it’s entirely out of date, consider that it made it into the UK charts in the 1970s and was performed on Top of the Pops. Yes, really. In Latin, and to an enthusiastic audience. Which just goes to show that some things never go out of fashion indefinitely. Rather like the cosy mystery, which saw its birth and heyday in the 1930s and is now enjoying a welcome resurgence and immense popularity.
Should you ever get the chance, do visit the church of St Mary the Virgin in Monken Hadley. Its doors are always open, and the people of the village are friendly and welcoming. Sometimes there is a free music concert on Sunday afternoons when you can enjoy the sight as well as the sound of the gracious building. A few paces along the lane that runs past the church, and you will come to Monken Hadley Common, a wide grassy space, fringed and dotted with trees and with an actual village pond on the green. Come at the right time, and you’ll see the flag irises nodding on its margin. Regardless of the season, I have found it a delightful place to visit and photograph. Many of the images are here or in the book trailers.
Amanda Cadabra Book 4 is now in the pipeline taking place during the winter and possibly the beginning of spring. Would you like to be on the latest developments of that? Come on in to the Latest News group. Next up will be news of the paperback of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan and the first series box set.
Meanwhile, where will this next story be taking place? Sunken Madley. Where else?
PS. Apologies to anyone who has been trying to enter the competition. The send in button is now working properly so please try again.
The launch on Sunday of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan, Book 3 in the Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries series, has been eminently successful. Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth had well over 1,000 downloads.
Thank you to everyone who shared the message of the launch and the Book 1 free day. Only 5 days since its release, and Book 3 has three 5-star reviews on Goodreads. Already readers have said they’re now eager for Book 4.
Tomorrow, I shall be posting an exclusive video in a blog about the setting of the Amanda Cadabra series. Book 3 is set between October and January, and with Sunken Madley and the real Sunken Madley fans in mind, in particular, the footage for the vidoe was filmed at Christmas. It was made by kind permission of the church and choir of the village of Monken Hadley. You’ll be able to see it here and on Facebook at Holly bell.
The Spot the Difference Competition is up and running. Entry is free, and you don’t have to buy either book. The maps for Book 2 and 3 are right here. All you have to do is find 10 differences between them and send in your list. Their are various ways to zoom in depending on your browser. Here are some suggestions: on your keyboard press Ctrl and the plus key or choose ‘View’ from the menu at the top of your screen and select ‘Zoom in’, or select Page Zoom.
A final thank you to everyone who has shown interest in the Amanda Cadabra series, watching the videos, reading the posts, liking, sharing, downloading and or buying any of the books, writing reviews, joining the updates or VIP readers groups, posting messages on my Facebook page, on Goodreads, and Bookbub.
See you tomorrow for the video release.
How good are you with spot the difference challenges? Find out how finely tuned your detective instincts are with the new competition. All you have to do is spot the 10 changes on the maps here, between the English village of Sunken Madley as it is in Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets and in the new Book 3, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan. Click the link below the maps to send in your answers.
The winner will receive a free signed (by me, Holly Bell) copy of a first edition paperback of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan. The closing date is 19th June 2019, exactly one month after the launch of the book. You don’t need to have read any of the novels to join in. If you know of anyone who would find it fun, then please share this post on Facebook or any other social media.
How will the winner be picked? By the traditional method: all of the names will go into a hat, and Aunt Amelia will pick one by the light of a full moon.
Tomorrow, Sunday 19th May will see the launch of the new book (so you still have time to get it at the pre-order price), and Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Amazon Kindle for 24 hours. The next news will be the release of the paperback of Book 3 and the surprise video, especially for fans of Sunken Madley and the real village that inspired it.
Meanwhile, happy spotting!
With the book trailer for Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan now out and about here on the site and on social media, it is now time for the new venture to be revealed, a video: Chapter One of the new book read by me. It’s about 12 minutes long.
If you prefer to read the text or read it along with the audio, you’ll find it here, below this blog. Please let me know what you think of the YouTube, by leaving even one word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the comments below, or email. Is this something you would like for all of the books?
Tomorrow: the competition. This will involve something old and something new, the village of Sunken Madley and the forthcoming paperback.
I hope that you enjoy Chapter 1 of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan.
Crypt and Cellar
Amanda found her lying on the floor of the crypt. Her head was up against a medieval stone coffin where it must have struck. One arm was hidden beneath the long raised form of the sarcophagus.
She hurried down the stone steps, her soft soles silent as the grave.
‘Please, no, not another body, oh please no,’ she murmured, gazing in dismay at the sight of her friend’s black cassock-clad body.
Amanda knelt beside the fallen rector of Sunken Madley church. There was no blood in the dark brown bobbed hair. Perhaps there was still life. Amanda laid a hand on her shoulder.
The body convulsed. The head turned. The alarmed face of the shepherd of St Ursula-without-Barnet looked up with alarm.
‘Good heavens, Amanda! You gave me the shock of my life. You really mustn’t creep up on people like that.’
‘Oh Rector, I am sorry, I just saw you lying there, and I thought …’
‘Of course, dear, after that dreadful affair at … aha!’
The Reverend Jane Waygood withdrew her arm from beneath the sarcophagus and knelt up, looking at Amanda’s feet.
‘Yes. Trainers. I see why you apparently stealthed up. Well, you’re just the person I wanted to see, and even more so at this moment. I believe your arms are slightly longer, not to mention slimmer, than mine or, at least, those craftsperson’s fingers of yours may be more agile.’
‘You were trying to get something out from under there?’ asked Amanda, leaning down.
‘It’s the keys to the church hall. They slipped out of my fingers and slid away into inaccessibility, and I wanted to have them ready to take you down there. I’m hoping that you’ll be involved in my plot,’ said Jane, in mysterious but hopeful accents.
Amanda was mindful that 5th November, Guy Fawkes Night, was soon to be upon them, celebrating the attempt, or possibly failure, of a group of 15th-century activists to put paid to the Houses of Parliament by the use of then state-of-the-art explosives.
‘If you’re planning to blow it up, don’t you think we should visit it under cover of night?’ suggested Jane’s parishioner helpfully.
‘Oh, if only we could,’ sighed the rector wistfully. ‘Claim on the insurance and rebuild the wretched thing from scratch. Unfortunately, my calling prevents me from engaging in such deception even if it wasn’t a listed building. Meanwhile, do you think you could be a dear and get those keys out from under there?’
Amanda looked at the floor with concern.
‘It’s as clean as a whistle in here,’ Jane assured her. ‘You don’t need to worry about dust setting off your asthma. Mrs Scripps cleans down here regularly. You could eat your dinner off those flagstones. Not that anyone else comes down here but there’s always hope of a rare visitor.’
‘Then of course,’ Amanda replied cheerfully and lowered herself onto her stomach. She reached between the coffin’s carved bears’ feet.
‘Here,’ said Jane holding her phone with the torch app on shining a light into the narrow space.
‘I see them! Thank you, Rector.’ Amanda slid her arm in the direction of the glint. ‘Yes … oh, there’s something else … it’s small … I can reach both … ah! … got them!’
Amanda pulled out her arm and stood up. She opened her hand, passed the keys to the rector and frowned down at the remaining ite m sitting on her palm. ‘Whatever do you suppose …?’
‘Bless my soul. It looks like a tiny little gold … cup or something. It’s quite thick, and look at all of these close-set wavy marks. Do you think it’s something to do with the sea? A fitting on an instrument that maybe was used on one of the old ships? An ornamental screw cover on a … sextant or something?’
‘Well, whatever it is, it’s the property of the church,’ said Amanda holding it out.
‘No,’ Jane replied thoughtfully. ‘No … you keep it. I have a feeling …. I think it’s an apport.’
‘An apport. Hmmm. Ask your Aunt Amelia. She’ll tell you about them.’
‘Oh. Ok. Well, thank you, Rector.’
‘And now to business. You got word through the grapevine, yes?’
‘Sylvia said you wanted to see me about something.’
‘Well, thank you for popping in, dear. Got your car with you?’ asked Jane, leading the way up out of the artificially lit crypt into the daylight in a corner of the west end of the church.
‘Yes, as it happens.’
‘Good. Go and fetch a dust mask.’
‘I’m taking you down into the bowels!’
With the mask secured, they took the path between the mellow stones of the higgledy-piggledy graveyard to the hall at the boundary of the church property. The rector used one of the newly retrieved ornate keys to open the side door.
‘I had no idea that this door existed,’ commented Amanda.
‘I know, we always herd people through the front. But here we are now. Come inside so I can push the door to, and get to this.’ There, at right angles to it, was another one, also locked. The rector opened it, switched on a light and led the way down some wooden stairs into the space below.
With difficult progress and in insufficient light, they passed between old rolls of carpet and backdrops, cardboard and wooden installations, trunks, suitcases, boxes, crates, a basket of stage swords, a golf bag of spears, and a large vase of Japanese parasols, as well as all manner of paraphernalia that it was hard to identify.
It was unexpectedly high-ceilinged for a cellar, and roomier than the hall because there was no stage or anterooms as there were above. Eventually, they came to an area that was even more challenging to traverse. A group of upright posts of wood were set at intervals, piled around with crates and cases that barred the way.
‘Right,’ Jane began briskly, ‘look up there. See those joists?’
‘They’re rotten. Not too bad for most of it, but along this section here, they’re as weak as water. That’s why the hall has been closed for as long as it has. It’s all a bit unsolid, but here it was dangerous.’
‘I see,’ said Amanda.
‘Well, I’ve been wanting to repair and reopen this hall for years, but, of course, the church roof had to come first, and now it has … and, well, I didn’t want to ask the kind benefactors to put their hands in their pockets again, especially so soon, without some effort on my own part and contributions from the community, towards restoring this lovely old hall. Except … no one was interested.’
‘I suppose the church with its medieval pedigree and the famous St Ursula stained glass window —’
‘— and the bell tower, yes,’ concurred Jane. ‘That was comparatively easy to attract donations to. Well, I said, “If you want this church to still be here for your enjoyment in 100 years, or even 50, you have to be willing to support it,” and so they were. But this hall. You see, it’s only late 1800s or even later and that’s no great shakes, is it?’
‘Not really,’ agreed Amanda.
‘So, what would make people realise the worth of the hall?’
‘Yes, but what’s the most exciting thing people can do on a floor?’ asked the rector blithely.
‘Erm.’ Amanda was unprepared for the question, and her mind boggled.
‘Dance!’ uttered Jane enthusiastically.
‘But no one could dance on a dangerous floor. So … I had it repaired! See, these wooden posts are supporting that group of floorboards above? Taking over from where the joists are rotten.’
Amanda squinted into the gloom. ‘I think I need a better light. Let me go up to the car and get a torch.’
‘No, no, you stay there,’ Jane insisted. ‘I’ll get one.’
The rector hurriedly picked her way across the stored goods and up the stairs. Amanda stood alone in the dusty silence, her breath contained and amplified by her mask. She felt a little dizzy, her vision fuzzed. Suddenly it was as if something shot down through the ceiling of floorboards above and would have hit her if she had not dodged back, tripping over a wooden case and stack of props. She got to her feet. But there was nothing there. Nothing above or below that had not been there before.
But now there was the faint sound of music. Maybe someone had a car radio on loudly nearby. And yet … there was singing too …. It was a waltz … an old song … Grandpa used to sing it … yes, to Granny … ‘Roses are shining in Picardy … in the hush of the silver dew’, and there was thumping above — no, not thumping exactly — feet … walking — no, they must be dancing … waltzing across the boards above her head, and people singing their hearts out. It wasn’t frightening … there was something wonderful and free and heartbreaking about it all at once. She wanted to be up there with them ….
‘Here we are, dear!’ came the rector’s voice, and, at once, it stopped. The music, the singing, the waltzing feet. As if it had never been.
Thank you for reading. You may enjoy watching the trailer
This is the moment: the full cover reveal of Amanda Cadabra and the Flawless Plan, Book 3 in the Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries series. The Kindle version is now about to become available for pre-order at the special pre-order price of $2.99 until Sunday 19th May when it will be released at full price.
On Thursday, you will be able to read the first chapter of the new book here. This is to give you a taste of the action, intrigue and puzzles to come the way of Amanda Cadabra and her grumpy feline familiar, Tempest (a great favourite of many readers!)
Some of you have kindly said how much you are looking forward to returning to the English village of Sunken Madley. Especially for those of you who feel a special attachment to the place, and by extension to the real Sunken Madley, there is an extra treat in store. More about that later.
On Friday, look out for the book trailer here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Please do let me know what you think of it. Your feedback is highly valued.
If you’re new to the series, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Sunday, the same as Book 3 launch day. If you know of someone who would delight in the mysteries and eccentricities of Amanda’s world, please do let them know so they can take advantage of the free download on that day. I would love as many people as possible to have the chance to try our dear Sunken Madley on for size and see how it fits them.
Thanks go out for the cover art of Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan to creative Erik Patricio Lúa, who is now working on the back cover of the paperback version of the book. News of that to follow!
Finally, thank you to everyone reading this for sharing the excitement of this week with me.
Now that Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets – Book 2 in the series, has been out for two whole months, I am opening a locked dossier. Maybe you’ve wondered how an author does research, and this may give you some insight. Most of it takes place on the internet, and I save the relevant pages to my browser bookmarks, but, more interestingly, I gather inspirational and informative pins into a private Pinterest folder for the book. If you would like to get a taste of the background research for Amanda Cadabra Book 2, the link is here.
What about Amanda Cadabra Book 3? I am 25% of the way through writing it. The plot is about to be dispatched to my excellent cover artist so his creative genius can begin formulating visions, one of which will be the final version that you will see in the partial then full cover reveal.
At present, I hope the publication date to be at the end of March or beginning of April. I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, 24th February, for just 24 hours, you will be able to download free from Amazon, another publication from Heypressto: 50 Feel-better Films by Chartreuse. This is the first in the Feel-better Collections series and is the product of years of research. If you’d like to start getting into the zone for Amanda Cadabra Book 3, I recommend Random Harvest, especially the beginning. I’ll say no more! Have I said too much?
Here the UK, early signs of spring are warming the air, painting the sky blue and encouraging the first daffodils to show their faces. A trip up to the real Sunken Madley will soon be called for to capture the new season there.
Wherever you are,
As I write the opening chapter of Amanda Cadabra Book 3, Heypressto releases 3 non-fiction books. The Feel-better Collections by Chartreuse are now becoming available beginning with Book 1.
Is there a link between these and the Sunken Madley chronicles? Yes. Cozy mysteries are feel-better novels, gentle, distracting, humorous and with happy endings. They are stories that leave you feeling that the world is a kinder, safer, softer, more joyful, friendlier yet exciting place than you may have felt it was before you were reading. And if it the case, as I believe, that you get what you focus on then the reader may actually begin to experience a better feeling environment.
So what are they about?
The first is 50 Feel-better Films.
‘Why not feel-good? Because at the bottom of the emotional staircase you can’t just ‘cheer up’. But you can feel better. Even if it’s just a little. Film from this collection drawn from 8 decades, about people dealing with the top 9 life crises, have helped others. They may help you or someone you care about.
Some of the movies are famous, some obscure. The main characters are from all kinds of backgrounds. The cinematic art quality ranges from Oscar winner to chick-flick, from great work to critical flop, from UK, US, Australia, France and India, from animation to restored black and white, from Random Harvest made in 1942 to Wonder, released on DVD in 2018.
There are no tales of fixes of what is broken, only new and improved. There are no deaths of subsidiary characters we have grown attached to, there is no wistful sadness; there is only hope, fulfilment and happiness at the ending of each of these stories.
You may not be ready even for the inspirational and motivational and so, although these films are also those things, this list is designed simply to include something that may soothe, comfort or encourage you into a better feeling emotional place.
50 Feel-better Songs from Film and TV was a natural progression from Book 1. Each song is about coming from a bad situation into a better feeling place, even if that isn’t yet a physical one that you can see. From 11 decades and 8 genres pop, pop-rock, jazz, reggae, RnB, soul, musicals and classical, some are slow, some upbeat. Each song has links to lyrics, Youtube where you can see the clip where it was sung live or in a movie, and to Amazon where you can listen and download.
Every song in this list, inspired by Abraham Hicks’ emotional scale, has soothed or comforted or inspired someone somewhere, in however small a way, to feel better.
Finally, 25 Feel-better Free Downloads was inspired by a desire to let people on a tight budget know what free examples of this kind of entertainments are available: 5 films, 5 songs, 5 five poems, 5 wallpapers and 5 books.’
Two more collections are on the table at the moment. Book 1, films, and Book 3, downloads, are now available from Amazon Kindlebooks with book 2, songs about to follow.
Meanwhile, what of Sunken Madley? What tidbits can I let fall about the sequel to Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets? Well, there will be 4 new characters. The village is about to receive new residents. There is a project afoot. The past will once again become entangled with the present.
All of the old favourites return: Amanda Cadabra, Granny and Grandpa, Detective Inspector Trelawney, his former boss the retired Chief Inspector Hogarth, and, of course, the star of the show, in his opinion, Tempest, Amanda’s irascible feline familiar. Plus the local Festival of the Feast of the St Ursula of the Orchard. Will Trelawney finally get his tour?
To help while away the weeks between now and the release of Book 3, I am working on some quizzes for you to have fun with. Please do drop me a line, or comment on Facebook or below if this is something you would enjoy.
Available from Amazon
on Kindle ebook