Tag Archives for " Cornwall "

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)

Holly


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,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Boxing Day Special: How I Made A Cozy Food Quiz For You

Dear Readers,

I built it, but no one came. At least, no one that I was aware of. And so it was left to languish … until ….

A few years ago, I came across a quiz feature on Facebook and thought it might be jolly to make one. And it was. But as I say, it didn’t seem to take off.

Reborn

The seed of the idea was planted about a year ago: perhaps I just hadn’t built it in the right place. The seed itself was something for amandacadabra.com called Quiz Builder. To get technical for a moment, it came from Thrive Themes. (That’s the set of plugins here, on my WordPress site, which helps me make attractive pages more easily than I otherwise would.) The Quiz Builder looked interesting, but the time was not apt.

And Then …

The long-awaited news from Bookbub came, announcing that, after three years and numerous attempts, Book 1 was being granted a space in one of their coveted emails to almost three million cozy readers. This would mean new visitors to the website. What could I do to make it more fun, not just for the new guests but for those precious readers already subscribing and regular visitors? What could I create for a Boxing Day Special for 2021?

The sound of heavenly choirs rang out: Quizzes!

What They Tell You

When you seek enlightenment on this interesting subject, you will be assured, either directly or by implication, that creating a quiz is a quick and simple procedure. In a matter of minutes, you can have yours up and running for the delight of your visitors. 

However

Although that is to some extent true, it only applies if you use the format provided and don’t include images, or just one or two. But you, dear readers, deserve something more appealing, intriguing and exciting. So what’s the procedure?

Questions, Questions

Let’s take a 10-question multiple-choice quiz. First, think of a theme. Let’s take food. Everyone likes food. But, for you, it has to Cozy Food. What is that? Well, in this case, it’s the traditional British food in Amanda Cadabra Book 1. Things like jam roly-poly, crumpets and spotted dick. So off we go with compiling a list of 10 food items from that book. Next, check that they are actually in the volume. Ah … here are two that appear later in the series. Think of two others and check them. Got 10. Good. Next?

 Wrong

For every correct answer, as this is multiple choice, there needs to be three incorrect ones. Simple? But they mustn’t give the game away regarding other subsequent questions. Hm .… Done. Next?

Pretty

Having typed them in, I could see that lines of text could do with some visual enhancement: a photo for each question, to charm and stimulate. On the shopping list: At least 10 images. But where are they to come from? Pending the acquisition of a picture researcher and a Shutterstock account, I set out on the internet in search of public domain images. In case this isn’t your area of expertise, that means that anyone can use them for anything. 

The Sticking Point

However, you can’t always find exactly what you want among them. Either because there is no photo in the public domain, or it isn’t sufficiently high quality. And you, dear readers, deserve the best that I can summon.

Let’s take marmalade roll. In the Cozy Food Quiz that I have written, there is a question with four images, one of which is this scrumptious pudding. The question asks you to pick the correct photo that portrays it. There is no image of marmalade roll that I could find in the public domain that clearly and accurately renders this tasty dish. Where to go? What to do? Leave you marmalade-roll-photoless? Never! And so …

The Hunt Is On

I go to Google, as one does, and type in ‘marmalade roll’ and later also ‘spotted dick’ and click on the ‘images’ tab. I search beyond the Checkpoint Charlie of paid-for-site stock images and look for those posted by websites run by individuals. Again, it’s about clarity and quality. Aha! I find one and dive into the site. I am hot on the trail! And there is the quarry, sitting pretty in a distractingly absorbing blog post. Do I simply seize the prey, make off with it and cast it into my own cooking pot?

Please, Sir, Can I Have …?

If an image is on a person’s website or posted on their social media platform like Facebook, then it belongs to someone. And there are laws about taking other people’s things. It is not only the legal thing and the polite thing, but the fun thing, to ask, ‘Please may I?’ I say ‘the fun thing’ because it can lead to delightful interactions and the discovery of new people with fascinating talents. So I wrote four, what are called, image permissions requests in emails. 

Done with images for now. Quick and easy, yes? I got up at 6.30 and, by 9 am, had 8 of the images downloaded and the four requests sent out.

Some More?

For you, in my view, it is not enough to serve up a generic style quiz. I want to give each one a custom-made look with a background image that will be enjoyable to engage with as you begin and progress through the quiz to the results. That can take quite a while too, but I know it will be worth it. Meanwhile, for the image permissions … I wait.

It Comes

The first reply regarding my request to use a fine photo of spotted dick comes from Neil Buttery, chef, author, blogger and squire of the fascinating site Britishfoodhistory.com (Well worth a visit). Neil kindly grants permission and thanks me for asking. I have a warm glow. It’s nice to ask, isn’t it? This also allows me to ask Neil if he’d do a bake and a piece on marmalade roll as there is confusion about its exact nature. We enter into correspondence about the intricate subject of this literary pudding: no less than the one contrived by Mrs Beaver in the children’s classic The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

That leaves just one more missing image. The elusive and aforementioned marmalade roll …

Rare

Why is an image of this luscious pudding so hard to find? It’s because it can be confused with a Swiss roll. What’s the difference? A Swiss roll is a layer of sponge on which jam or some other filling can be spread and then curled up. A marmalade roll, however, contains suet, which is hard white fat usually from cows. (But you can also use vegetable suet.) If you are a meat eater and think how revolting this sounds, I have to agree with you. It does sound off-pudding, but the experience is rich and sumptuous. Like the marbling in steak. If you’d like to try the recipe, there is one here: Sticky Marmalade Roll.

I’ve never seen a proper one commercially produced. So, where was I to find an image for your quiz that looks like the real thing? But come, we are readers. Where do we seek information on anything? And that is where I found it: amongst the books, in the Librarian’s Lunchbox. Here Lydia posts both book reviews and literary recipes: a beautiful site and another that is well worth a visit. 

Having written to request permission to use the photo of Lydia’s marmalade roll, I received a charming reply. This recipe is sponge but is inspired by the suet version and, from above, does give the impression of Mrs Beaver’s creation. 

Testing Times

The following image stage is editing each photo for colour balance, clarity, framing and size. Put it all together, and it’s time to try it out. I am the first beta tester, and I usually find something that needs correcting. From me, it goes to friend and beta reader David out in Montana to put it through its paces. All good? Time for the unveiling, and it’s over to you.

Have A Go?

So, that’s how I do my quizzing, extending the opportunity for you to indulge in some cozy play. If you’d like to create a quiz and would like some advice, do feel free to drop me a line, and I’ll do my best to help.

Meanwhile, there are now five quizzes up on the site, with more to come. Here they are in case one takes your fancy.

I hope that you are enjoying the holidays. After I’ve scheduled this to appear later today, I’m returning to editing the next book, Book 7 in the Amanda Cadabra series. And then I’m having some Christmas pudding! Back next time with the story of how, this autumn, I met, and fell in love with, Amanda’s apple.

Wishing you a fun, relaxing, literary, and above all, happy week ahead. 

 Holly


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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Book research trip to a medieval festival

Into a Medieval Battle for The Next Cozy Book

Dear Readers,

Results of The Big Day

What happened last Sunday? It set off 4 free days for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. There were some 25,000 downloads. So this is a quick narrative stop-off to say  a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in such a landmark event for me, Amanda and the series.

Journeying Back to 1471

Just so you know what I did last summer, the fourth of my research trips (you can read about the others among these Letters) took me to The Barnet Medieval Festival to see the re-enactment of the Battle of Barnet, mentioned in the Amanda Cadabra series.

Why?

Duke of York's banner - winner of the battle

It’s important to the stories. This conflict would have ranged across Monken Hadley, the real village on which Sunken Madley is based. The re-enactment is an annual event and is key to the plot of Book 4: Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley.

So much for past books. This was also a field trip for the story I am currently preparing for you, the seventh in the series.

Who Won and Why Does It Matter?

The current monarch, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a descendant of the Duke of York, who won the battle on that occasion. And there in the photo is his flag with the lions and the fleurs-de-lis. But because of the dense fog that day, supplemented by the smoke of cannon fire, the battle could have gone either way, and someone else could have ended up in The Big Chair. It was, in fact, a crucial point in the history of these islands.

Medieval Meteorology and Monksfiring hand cannons

The weather conditions that prevailed on 14 April 1471 play a role in the new Amanda Cadabra book. So I wanted, in some way, to experience what it may have been like. On top of that, I wanted to meet a monk, which I did. Two, in fact. One of whom was a genuine, modern, cleric. The other, the Mad Monk of Mitcham, a medieval jewellery specialist and craftsman who serves the re-enactment community with both replicas and the genuine article, was able to show me some pieces that were 2000 years old, and told me about common accessories at the time of the battle. But that is a research story for another future book.

Clothes, Props and Know-how

I was tremendously impressed by the knowledge of the re-enactors, who were kind enough to talk to me after the event. Historical accuracy is key for them. Their costumes were handmade, and many of the props were lovingly constructed by the re-enactors themselves. Others are supplied by re-enactment propsPreparing to march. Woman carrying water. and costume specialists.
Excitingly, I was able to see first-hand how a costume that will appear in the next book was made. I visited a hat stall where I learned about the white linen caps that women wore: required by law at the time to cover their hair. Felt hats could go over the top of the cap.

Fashion Law

During medieval times, there were waves of Sumptuary laws designed to differentiate between the social classes. How much notice was taken of these in practice is debatable (I’m guessing, very little).  In theory, specific fabrics, such as satin and velvet, and certain colours were allowed to be worn only by the élite, for example crimson, dark reds, royal blue and purple. Others, including surprisingly bright ones like blue, russet and yellow, were worn by the lower classes. All of this has Woman firing a hand cannongone into the new Amanda Cadabra book. Women’s dresses were made of linen or wool, and the re-enactor who explained all of this allowed me to feel the weight of her skirt – heavier than any dress I have ever worn.
‘But you get used to it,’ she explained cheerfully.

Women Where?

Surprisingly, there were a fair number of women on the battlefield, as you can see from the photos. We know that certain noblewomen did lead armies into battle over the course of the medieval period. But what about ordinary female folk in Britain? There is evidence that they supplied the fighters with water, medical aid, ammunition and even fired weapons. We don’t know if they did actually fight. But then we also don’t know that they didn’t.

Next?

I hope that this has enabled you to savour some of the excitement I experienced on that action-packed day out and its breadcrumbs to the next books. I have now finished the second draft of the new Amanda Cadabra and have begun the first editing pass. Next stop: I go to meet my apple. An unforgettable, emotional encounter and a remarkable horticulturist made for the high point in and grand finale to my field trips of the season. You never forget the moment you first see …. But more of that to come. Next time, as it’s a festive weekend marked by feasting, I’ll be announcing the new Glorious Cozy Food Quiz, an all new, all picture puzzle for few fun Christmas or otherwise moments.

Happy Holidays,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Book covered by gold cloth and question mark on photo of white birds is blue sky above green fields. Text: 4 Free Book sDays, Cover Reveal and Quizzes

Free Book Days, Quizzes and A Cover Reveal

Dear Readers,

4 Free Book Days

Starting this very day, until Wednesday, 15th DecemberAmanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth is free to download from Amazon. Even as we speak, an email is going out from Bookbub to 2,800,000 cozy mystery subscribers and, of course, to our own subscribers to broadcast these glad tidings. Here is a little 30-second video for your entertainment with (a shortened version of) some brand new winter-themed music from the overwhelmingly talented, videographer’s angel, Australian composer Aaron Kenny:

 

A flock of white birds against a blue sky with green fields below. Text: Free 4. Link image to video about 4 free days 12 - 15 Dec 2021 for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

 

Where’s the Smoke?

Yes, I did say I’d report from the thick of the historical battlefield, and I shall, next week, but I just have so much to tell you that it needs to keep for another seven days. You see, in preparation for today’s huge event, for which I have been hoping and planning for three years, I have prepared some new goodies. In case you aren’t yet in the know, what is this Bookbub of which I speak?

The Big Deal

In their own words, ‘BookBub is a free service that helps you discover books you’ll love through unbeatable deals, handpicked recommendations, and updates from your favorite authors.’ They have a subscription list of millions. It can take, yes, years for your book to be accepted to be included in one email on one day. They take only 10-15% of submissions (which come from both independent authors and traditional publishers), and the standards, to put it mildly, are high. And, as I say, after three years of attempts, one midnight, I saw the acceptance email and was stunned with joy.

Thank you

I would like to pay tribute, at this point, to all of the readers who posted a review of Amanda Cadabra and the Hidey-Hole Truth, helping it to achieve the milestone of 100 Amazon reviews. I have no doubt that this was a significant factor that prompted Bookbub’s decision to accept it for a highly-prized Bookbub Featured Deal. 

Thanks to Daniel Becerril Ureña for his professional and creative cover, to Kim, our editor, Daria Lacy for her flawless formatting and to Laurence o’Bryan and Tanja Slijepčević  of Books Go Social whose advice, experience and services have helped guide my marketing journey . I would also like to express sincere appreciation again to Kim, to best-selling author and friend Tim Brown, to Paula, Katherine, David, Katherine (yes, I’m lucky enough to know two fine ladies by that name) and all of the dear friends and readers who have always expressed such encouraging and heart-warming faith in me, the books and the prospect of increasing success.

So, the good news arrived. But that was only last month. Not much time to prepare. However ….

Cover Reveal

In honour of this auspicious occasion, our skilled, deft and inspired illustrator Daniel, whom I cannot thank sufficiently, has pulled out all the stops, crammed this extra project into his already busy schedule and, for Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, produced this thrilling cover. Feedback so far has been: ‘I love it!’ ‘Makes you want to read the story’, and ‘fab’. I hope that you like it too.

Quizzes

To provide more fun for you and the new visitors arriving from today, I have added a new feature to the website. So far, each quiz is just ten multiple-choice questions-long. They have been tested by David, a friend and particularly kind beta reader whose fascinating correspondence never fails to give me a lift. Here are the first three, in case you’d like to have a play now. If you want to re-do any of the quizzes, just refresh your page, and you’ll get back to the start. Any feedback would be greatly welcomed: ‘too easy,’ ‘too hard’, or ‘Goldilocks level’.

Link image to three quizzez

And There’s More …

Yes, if you check the Inspiration section, you’ll find more photographs garnered from my field trips in search of the cozy village. Additional ones are coming soon. And finally, at the time of writing this to you, I have taken advantage of a new feature on Amazon that allows me to tell you more about the series. It’s called A+ Content, and mine now includes a pretty chart about the main characters with customised avatars for each one by graphic artist Soodabeh Damavandi, plus a seasonal and historical background to each of the books. Do have a look, and again, it would be wonderful to hear what you think about it.

It has been a pleasure to share my good news with you. If you would like to be a part of the celebration, please consider sharing the video above or this letter to readers with even just one friend. Thank you.

Next Time

Absolutely. Battle, smoke, books past and future. The works. Also, a report on the next four days. Until then,

Wishing you a happy winter week,

Holly


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 Book 2 free on Thursday 11th November and Amanda Cadabra Book 3 free to download on Sunday 14th November

Update: 2 Free Books for Remembrance/Veterans Day Weekend!

Dear Readers,

Two Free Books

Free: Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of SecretsThe planets are aligned; it is decreed. Yes, this Thursday,  11th November Remembrance Day, celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States, will still see the offer of  Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, free to download from Amazon for just one day.

However, on Remembrance Sunday, 14th November, it is Book 3, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan, that will be available for free download from Amazon. Just that book and just for the day.

Why?

Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan on tablet on Edwardian background of photos and the word 'Free'It is in book 3 that Sunken Madley actually celebrates Remembrance Day. There is the moving role-call of those who lost their lives in the First World War, showing how it touched every family in the village.

Not only that, but Amanda and Detective Inspector Trelawney must travel back in time to 1918 and the night of a storm that shook Sunken Madley. Only there can they discover the truth of the murder in the present day.

With Book 2 centring on events in 1940 and Book 3 on 1918 following Armistice Day, this is the perfect weekend for new readers to join the series at zero cost.

This is a First

Yes, for the first time, both books will be made available for free download over the same long weekend, to add them to your cozy collection. If you’ve already read them and you know of existing or potential cozy fans among your friends, please do pass on the good news.

So, here are the new official dates: Thursday 11th November for Book 2,  Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, and Sunday 14th November for Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan. I do hope that this slight reshuffle is to everyone’s taste and that you enjoy these two books.

Back soon with news of progress on the trail of village inspiration and The Magic Fruit.

Happy Mid-November reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Thursday 11th and Suday 14th November free days for Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell

Free Book for Remembrance Day & 100 Reviews

Dear Readers,

Free Book Day

First, then, the best news! This week, on Thursday, is Remembrance Day, celebrFree: Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secretsated as Veterans Day in the United States. In honour of the occasion,  Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, free to download from Amazon. For the second book in the series, events that took place during WWII are central, with spies, bombs, and the crucial Canadian connection. It also features a modern-day German hero and his crew, who become especially beloved by the villagers of Sunken Madley.

This offer is just for Thursday 11th November and Remembrance Sunday, 14th November. If you’ve read and enjoyed it, please do share the news with any of your friends who you think may have fun joining the series.

Over To You for the 100

Now the spotlight moves over to you with a special thank you for new a landmark in the series. I am delighted to announce that Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth has now achieved 100 reviews on Amazon.com. This is entirely due to you who so generously took the time to write and post your thoughts. However, this is by extension thanks to all of you who have posted or spoken a review anywhere at all, for sharing the pleasure that any of the books have given you, for being Amanda’s ambassadors, for spreading the cozy joy.

Link to thank you video to readers who have posted a review

 

Amanda Cadabra Book 7

Manuscript for AC7 the next sequel - next stage in the writing process‘So, where is the next book?‘ I hear you ask. Last time I showed you the magic circle, in which I had printed out of all the higgeldy-piggeldy first draft and arranged in a pleasingly artistic arc on the carpet. Here is a photo of the next stage completed. During the journey from the floor, all sorts of rearranging, adding and excluding has taken place. (I fully admit to having added the tea cup stain. I just didn’t feel I’d be giving you your money’s worth without it.)

All of this now had to be ordered in Word, and countless changes have occurred during that process, with the bulk of the writing added, bringing the total word count up to around 82,000. More news on the next (now completed) stage to follow.

To further encourage the writing process, I have with immense pleasure and relief, handed over the advertising on Amazon and Facebook to my wonderful promoters Books Go Social. This means I’ll have more time to actually create the books.

Time to be Transparent

One thing my field trips this year have shown: I need proper business cards. So together with the immensely patient and skilled designers at Plasma Design and my talented illustrator, Daniel Becerril Ureña, this is the result: in gold and black ink on a transparent background.

When I opened the parcel, I didn’t know what it was. The cards had arrived 2 weeks earlier than I expected. ‘Thrilled’ does not begin to cover it! The version on the left is a graphics file, and the one one on the right is a photograph of the same card showing the glint of gold. I’ve had rave reviews so far. I’d love to know what you think too, so please drop me a line or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Coming Soon …

Next time I’ll be telling you about another research trip for the series and …  for the next two books.

Happy November reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

Porthleven in the background, with Amanda Cadabra book t and a cream tea in the foreground

The Real Cornish Café from Amanda’s Cozy Mystery World

Dear Readers,

The Twisting Current

Cornish pasties, Jamaica Inn, smugglers, and Cornish clotted cream teas. What do they all have in common? Yes, they’re all things for which Cornwall is internationally famous, and they appear in the Amanda Cadabra series. However, it is the last item in the list that is probably the most popular and today we learn its secrets.

Map showing location of Porthleven, Cornwall, SW EnglandMichael and Susan Plant are the creative geniuses behind the café that inspired our heroine’s favourite port of call in Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr: The Twisting Current, on the edge of mysterious Bodmin Moor. There Amanda finds her dream treat, astonishes Inspector Trelawney with her capacity for seconds, and can’t resist the opportunity to go back for more.

The Search

As readers will know, Amanda is dairy free on account of her asthma. Consequently, when writing the book, I set out on The Twisted Current Tea Room in Porthlevena hunt for a real life café that would serve a dairy-free, proper Cornish cream tea. Casting the net far and wide through Cornwall, I discovered a rare treasure: The Twisted Currant in Porthleven in the far south west, just half an hour from Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland Cornwall and England. There they make and serve a luscious array of cakes and mouthwatering savouries with choices for dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan visitors.

Michael kindly granted me an opportunity to interview him about the story behind the café and its acclaimed cream teas.

Owners of the Twisted CurrentPlease could you tell me, what is your and Susan’s connection to Cornwall?

We are not natural Cornish. Susan came down from London with her parents and I was posted to RNAS Culdrose whilst in the Navy. We have both been in Cornwall since 1982. I think the secret to living in Cornwall is to accept the Cornish ways and to go with the flow. I now consider crossing the river Tamar near Plymouth as almost going abroad.

What inspired you to open the café? Do you both come from a restaurant background?

We started a cafe as Susan baked professionally and I wanted to start a small business. We thought that our personalities matched a tea room environment.

The Twisted Currant was furbished only last year, with golden yellow, cream fresh white and warmInside the Twisted Current Cafe. White shelves with nautical artwork, wooden tables, bright interior wood. It looks so appealing that I ad to ask: How did you decide how to present/decorate the café?

We wanted the tea room to be bright and fresh, but homely and a relaxed ambiance. One of our daughters designed the layout and I built the benches and counter.

Clearly Michael and Susan are a talented couple. For the benefit of international readers who may not be familiar with Amanda Cadabra’s favourite Cornish delicacy, I asked Michael,

Could you explain, please, for my international readers, what a cream tea is, what clotted cream is?

A cream tea consists of either fruit (sultanas) or plain scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam and a pot of tea. Scones are made with flour, butter and milk, made into a dough, rolled about an inch thick and cut with a round fluted cutter. They are baked until crisp on the outside.

There is some debate as to the order of the toppings, I gather.

In Cornwall the jam is applied to the scone and then the cream. In the neighbouring county of Devon the cream is applied first, then the jam. Local Cornish are passionate about the correct way to spread the jam and cream and gently chide anyone who gets it wrong.

Where did the inspiration come from to create a dairy-free cream tea?

For non dairy scones we serve coconut cream instead of cream and use oat milk in place of milk when making theNormal cream tea and a chocolate cream tea on the same platter scones. We do a lot of gluten free, nut free and vegan scones as well. Susan started making gluten free scones for one of our daughters friends who was celiac. We now try to have a dairy, gluten free or vegan version of everything on our menu so friends and family can all order something from our menu regardless of diet or lifestyle choices.

Susan is the inventor of all our cakes and scones. She invented the chocolate cream tea consisting of chocolate chip scones, chocolate spread and clotted cream. Reactions vary, with some customers stating they are to die for, and more traditional minded customers being scandalised with such decadancy.

What other Cornish specialties can we find at your café?

We try to do as much Cornish as possible and also serve saffron tea cakes and “Thunder and lightning” consisting of slices of white bread lathered with clotted cream and golden syrup.

Where do most of your non-local visitors to the café come from (in a normal year.)

Our customers range from locals to tourists from all over the UK and abroad. Many locals stay away during the busy tourist season but come out in winter when they know they can get a seat.

On Google Maps, I can see that Fore Street where the café is, is also named ‘Stret A-rag’. Do you useHarbour in sunlight on the water any Cornish words in the menu or around the café at all?

The Cornish language is not used in everyday speech any more but some vestiges survive. For instance, in the neighbouring village of Helston they have a dance every year around the town when “Hellys bys vycken” (Helston for ever) is shouted by the participants. The Cornish language is very similar to Breton in Brittany, France, where it is spoken more commonly.

Michael’s words made me feel especially happy to be part of the Cornish language revival, together with thousands around the UK and abroad who are now learning and speaking with one another on a regular basis. Hopefully one day it will again be used in everyday speech. Meanwhile, I asked Michael, the next question:

I read that Porthleven lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with breathtaking views from the Porthleven Cliffs and the mysterious Giant’s Rock. But what about Porthleven makes it special to both of you?

Porthleven is special to many locals and visitors alike because it is an unspoilt fishing village which despite the tourist  influx has a vibrant community spirit. They do things ‘dreckly’ (like the Spanish manana but slower) in Porthleven so stress levels are lower and life generally is more relaxed.

You’re right by the harbour with green hills and fields to the north. Looks like a Victorian building. Are you able to tell me anything about it?

The Twisted Currant shares a Victorian building with Star Gazey, a gift shop and holiday apartments above. It was originally a grocery store with owners accommodation above but has seen many different businesses over the years since.

Is this the first time The Twisted Currant has made an appearance in a novel?

As far as I know it is the first time the Twisted Currant has made an appearance in a novel.

I was excited to see the word ‘Rodda’s’ on two to the little dishes in two of the photos. It’s the only clotted cream I ever buy when I want a treat. I’m lucky enough to live near a supermarket that always has it and so I can feel that little connection will Cornwall.

We use Rodda’s clotted cream with our cream teas. It is a local business which is now world renowned and is always lip-smackingly good. Clotted cream is understood to have been invented many years ago when a farmers wife inadvertently left a pot of cream on the stove overnight. When she came down in the morning the cream had thickened and clotted cream has been made ever since.

Amanda’s Future Go-To

Michael kindly said that he was ‘happy for you to mention the Twisted Currant in any of your books in the future.’ You can be sure that Amanda will be making a return visit to the literary version of the cafe. Thanks to Susan’s creation of the chocolate cream tea, I can see The Twisted Currant becoming a place of pilgrimage for chocolate lovers, as well as gluten-free and dairy-free visitors to Cornwall.  Guest houses, hotels and holiday cottages have now re-opened, if you would like to book your stay in one of Britain’s most beautiful areas, and sample the delights of the Twisted Currant for yourself.

Thanks, More? and The Sequel

It remains only for me to thank Michael and Susan for their sharing their experiences and granting me the use here of some choice photos from their Facebook page. (A rich selection of mouth-watering delights. Deliciously browsable!)

I hope that you have enjoyed our behind-the-scenes visit to one of the special places that have inspired locations and experiences in the Amanda Cadabra books. Please do let me know if you would like some more articles like this one.

Meanwhile, Book 7 has begun its flow. The all-important first paragraphs are written, and more is coming into being every day. And every night, when the characters like to chat to each other! The stream is moving, the blossoms, shops and businesses are opening, and the days are lengthening towards mid-summer. It’s all to come.

Happy May!


Holly

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

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