4 Free Book Days
Starting this very day, until Wednesday, 15th December, Amanda 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:
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.
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 ….
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.
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’.
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.
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,
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
and Large Print
Goodies aplenty have been in the making here at Heypressto.
First, I was going to do a paperback cover reveal of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths. However, instead, I have something even better. The book, number 5 in the cozy paranormal mystery series, is now available in both formats: the one you can download and read electronically and the one you can hold in your hand. If, like me, you are one who prefers the printed page, you can find it here on Amazon where it was published just hours ago. (Click if you’d like to see the little video.)
The Artist Against The Odds
This is an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to the sterling work and creativity of our cover illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña. While thousands of miles away from home, pursuing further studies in his chosen artistic field abroad, during a pandemic and, in the midst of moving cities, Daniel pulled it out of the hat. He produced what is, in my opinion, the best cover yet of the Amanda Cadabra series.
If you’d like to see more of Daniel’s work, you can find some of his portfolio here: The art of Daniel. He is an artist well worth watching as he goes from strength to strength.
So, whether in ebook or paperback, what is Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths about? To answer that, here is the second item in the party bag:
The Brand New Trailer
Free Chapter 1 of the New Release
The final surprise is in celebration of another landmark. Chapter 1 of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths is now published in the International Dublin Writers’ Festival Magazine. You can read it on page 126.
One More Goody
We are having one last day of the season when Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, will be free to download from Amazon. That will be on Saturday, 12th September when the Festival will be in full swing. And here is a little video for your entertainment.
Why don’t you do more free days for people who want to start the series, you may ask. Excellent question. It is because Amazon allows just 5 free days per Kindle book for every 90-day period. That’s how long each contract with them for exclusive retail rights lasts. Or as it is called KDP select. There are many benefits from being a part of this for both cozy mystery readers and authors. I like to save up the free days for special occasions, like this one.
In the Pipeline …
Book 6 is coming to me thick and fast and so there just one more fun project which will finish up all of the treats for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths: a YouTube of me reading chapter 1 for your pleasure.
Back soon with news of that. Meanwhile,
Happy viewing and reading,
PS If you want to start the series:
Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle
Today is the first of the two free days for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, Book 1 in the British humorous cozy paranormal mystery series. I know that for some of you I’m preaching to the choir! However, you may have fellow literary enthusiasts who would love to start a new series, and Sunken Madley may be their next imaginary home.
Here is a video you might like to send to them that says it all in 21 seconds.
‘What is the reason for this party favour?’ you may ask if you’re new the series. Exactly that. It’s in celebration of the launch at the weekend of Book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.
Is you would like a taster of the new book, you can read the opening chapter in International Review of Books special edition within the International Dublin Writers Festival magazine to be published online this week.
If you’re curious about what makes a British cozy paranormal mystery writer tick, then you can gain some insight soon. Book blogger and paranormal author Denise Fleischer is kindly interviewing me on 1st September on Gotta Write Network.
Next stop: the trailer for Book 5 and the paperback.
Wishing you a happy week with many unexpected delights,
PS If you want to start the series:
Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths is now launched, live and available for download from Amazon Kindle. Below is a 15-second video for your entertainment.
To celebrate the launch, there will now be at least 2 free days for Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. So if you’re thinking of joining the Sunken Madley ride, you can do so without outlaying a single coin on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th August. If you know of a fellow reader who’d enjoy mystery, magic and suspense in an English village, please do pass on the good news.
With each book, I get better with controlling the launch. Launches seem to have a mind of their own and are all too ready to grab the momentum and run wild with it. This time, it was all going according to plan, with no pressure. And then … an opportunity presented itself that was too good to miss.
Books Go Social, who handles most of the marketing for the Amanda Cadabra books, invited me to submit an excerpt from Book 5 in a special magazine. This is no other than the International Review of Books special edition within the International Dublin Writers Festival magazine. This is scheduled for publication at the end of this month, (free to read online or download) now only days away.
The starting pistol had been fired and the fun began in earnest. Book 5 would have to launch at least a few days before the magazine comes out. I was still putting in the amendments in from my last readthrough, but now it was pedal to the metal. The team valiantly came on board, scheduling editing and cover illustration. At the same time, star beta readers kindly agreed to read the manuscript and get back with comments quickly.
The Kindle version is now live, a little earlier than planned, thanks to this happy circumstance and everyone who pitched in. Next it’s time to get on with formatting for the paperback, while our cover artist Daniel conjures the back cover and spine for the book jacket.
(The launch process for the next book will be calm and composed. That’s the plan.)
Back soon with more news, possibly an additional free day for Book 1, and more juicy goodness.
PS If you want to start the series:
Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle
With the countdown to 25th December in just hours now, here’s a little help with eleventh-hour preparations:
From Sunday until Christmas Eve, the Christmas cozy paranormal mystery, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan is free on Amazon Kindle. For 72 hours, this is for you to download, send as a last-minute gift, stocking filler or reward to yourself. After all, you deserve a treat, especially now.
Here’s a little video you might like to send to someone who needs to beat the clock. Or they may be a fellow fan who loves a humorous British whodunnit with a wandful of magic and a hint of romance sprinkled on the top.
This is the last special offer of the year. Still, I will have news of one for January 2020, especially for anyone who would like to start on the Amanda Cadabra series. More of that next time.
Meanwhile, here is my latest article for the Books Go Social Magazine – Holiday Reads. If you’d like inspiration for seasonal literary indulgences, follow the link where you can read or download the magazine and enjoy a wealth of recommendations and ideas.
And so to conclude, may I wish you the very best of the holidays, love, friendship, sumptuous food, beautiful settings, merriment and all that is fine and light and of good cheer.
Back next week,
PS If you want to start the series:
The poisoned sherry, the gunshot from the snow-covered terrace, the knife beneath the festive tree, the blackmail note inside the gift-wrap. How can we resist?
With mystery, thrillers and crime topping the Kindle charts only just behind romance, what is the appeal of the genre at this time of year?
People gather who customarily avoid one another like the plague, but under familial pressure, a sense of duty, or fear of isolation, duly attend the party. Let us set aside the convivial ideal gathering, and inspect instead the potential for delightfully deadly conflict.
Hosts prepare exceptional food, guests dress up and bring presents: all potential pawns in the battle for status, approval and a place in the family head’s will! The cooking of an ambitious feast causes tension in the kitchen. Old feuds are rekindled. Light the blue touch paper … and stand back.
The writer will set us up with apparent comfort and joy. The fairy lights, candles, tinsel and baubles on the tree, sparking wrapping and satin ribbon adorn the setting. Cards are exchanged, full of sentiment, heartfelt or spurious. Seasonal music fills the air, carols in the village church, singers with lanterns outside the door, old favourites around the piano and on the radio. The banquet is rolled out, to oohs and ahhhs as the turkey or goose in all its golden splendour is borne from the kitchen. The pops of the crackers sound, the laughter at the awful jokes, paper crowns. perched comically. The tastes of the savoury and sweet are relished. A feast for the senses. Smiling faces, goodwill … and then ….
The sudden, shocking interruption. The dive into a world of plots, suspicion, passion and dark deeds until the awful truth is revealed. Contrast follows again with the happy ending, the victim given justice, and the innocent exonerated. The lights come back on, the toast is drunk, and the Christmas spirit is all the greater for the drama that has unfolded.
For an example, I reach for a Christmas crime by the godmother of the cozy mystery: Dame Agatha Christie.
Interestingly her prime cozy sleuth Miss Marple is unavailable for the winter celebration. However, her Belgian private detective, Hercule Poirot, comes to our rescue in a short story. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is the one Christie that could only have unfolded during that time of year.
Poirot rejects the whole idea of the traditional rural English Christmas. The countryside signifies the damp and chill of old stone mansions, and, he declares, the occasion is, in his native land, reserved for children. However, the plight of a hapless prince and royal scandal are in the balance. The young man has been robbed of a priceless family heirloom: a suitably red ruby.
The trail leads to Kings Lacey. With the promise of efficient central heating and hot water, our beloved Belgian agrees to join a family party there. Dinner brings a dazzling surprise with an unexpected object in the plum pudding. How did it get there? Soon there is a more pressing question as the red and white of yuletide turns to blood on the snow. Who is responsible for the footprints leading out to the body lying in the garden?
Christie throws in twists and turns to bring the path to a satisfactory conclusion. Not the best written, but it is her most Christmassy and tosses us from interest, to anticipation, to engagement, to shock, to resolution and back to seasonal joy.
However, I would suggest that our attachment to Christmas crime goes back far earlier than Christie. At the dawn of our human consciousness, the first mystery surely would have been why nature died, the days darkened, the air chilled. And then, a further curiosity, why the earth revived, lightened and warmed.
It is innate in us all to seek cause and effect. Could it be that at this time of year we have some genetic, tribal memory linking us to that first puzzle? Our forebears attempted to explain it, with what we still do: telling stories. An example is the tale of the battles at the solstices between Oak, king of summer and Holly, lord of winter.
Isn’t that what a mystery is? Not cause and effect, but effect first: a dead body. Who or what caused it? Whodunnit.
So as the death of nature resolves into the beginning of the lengthening of days, what better genre to celebrate with than a mystery? In harmony with the seasonal spirit, what better than a cozy mystery?
As a global event, the solstice is celebrated or has a history of celebration in some form or another across the world. Whether with tinsel and glitter, candles and bonfires, smiles and laughter, add a mystery, and let there be light.
I have just written the first thousand words of Amanda Cadabra Book 5. This is the right moment to answer the question, what does it feel like to do that? What is the creative process? Did I force myself to sit at a desk and commit to writing a certain number of words in an afternoon? Some great works of fiction have been created using such discipline. However, in my case, this is how it happened ….
Where to start?
It’s been a few weeks since I finished the fourth in the Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mysteries series. So after a plot map – a rough one then a tidier one, both in a big sketchbook – the first step was to reconnect with the last book, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley. Next, I checked where we’d got to in the story arc, what our characters know, and what has been shared with you, dear readers.
I like to weave the strands of the self-contained story of each book in and out of one another, together with the over-arching plot that runs through the whole series. Consequently, I made notes on the plot sketch of what needs to interspersed.
Researching the Real World
Each book includes settings and details that are new to me. For example, for Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, I had to research spies, bombs and air-raids. For Book 3, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan it was how they celebrated the end of the first world war that Christmas, structural damage, and 1930’s firearms.
For this sequel, I followed my nose in and out of research on Wikipedia and other internet sites. And then I knew. The first chapter suddenly was obvious to me. I had the document open with the first few lines. I pulled it up from under my browser windows, and my fingers began to type. The lines came quickly with no time for spelling or grammar checks. Out it flowed as though I were taking dictation from my own mind.
Soon I am between two worlds: this one and the world of Amanda Cadabra. As I type, I move more and more into that fantasy existence … My eyes are on the screen, my fingers tapping on the keyboard, but before my eyes is … the sitting room at 26 Orchard Row, in the English village of Sunken Madley. I am seated on the chintz sofa of the Cadabra’s house beside Granny – Senara Cadabra. Before me on the coffee table is a cup of tea in a white, delicately floral patterned, Wedgwood china cup. I see Amanda handing Inspector Trelawney a matching dish of shortcake. I can see the plate. I know the design, the gilded edges …. I know how the room smells, how each person smiles, the exact colour of their eyes, the timbre, intonation of each voice … It is as though I hear them speak rather than give them their lines. They give me theirs.
Three hours later, and I’m back. I’m hungry, thirsty, stiff, and the room is stuffy. How do I get back into my body and the real world? How else … with a cup of tea!
And that, for the most part, is how all of every book comes to me. In between, I have to do a great deal of checking and learning. Yet somehow I remain in the fantasy zone as I come and go between fiction and non-fiction. Any fact at all of which I am not certain must be verified. That is part of world-building, or perhaps it is simply what allows me to perceive that other world.
What does it mean?
Some theorise that when an author writes fiction in this way, they are seeing a reality that exists somewhere on some plane or other – an alternative reality, another universe. Others say that we are creating a reality that then somehow, somewhere comes into being.
In my case, all I can say is that it seems real to me when I am immersed in the creative experience. That is what enables me to make it real to you, so that you might have that door at the back of the wardrobe, the way through the looking-glass, the ticket for The Hogwarts Express, down the rabbit hole, the leap into the chalk drawing.
So when I finish a book and load it onto Amazon, what I am really saying is,’ Come with me … let me share with you … let me show you this other place of mystery, magic, people to know, love, relate to, suspect. This cozy place where, ultimately, good will triumph, and at the end of each book, for now at least, all is right with the world.’
Thank you to every one of you who have read or plan to read one or more of the books, even just looked at a cover, come to visit this site, peeped through the keyhole, or encouraged me to keep writing.
Why do I do it? Why do I write? Because I can’t help myself!
Don’t Force It
Can I make what I have described happen? No. I have wait for the wave. Sometimes you just have to sit on the beach and watch the sea, admire the sky, listen to the gulls, tend your surfboard. There is always the clam and mussel digging of marketing, the rockpool, net-and-jam-jar visits of research and, sometimes, it’s just a matter of lying back on the sand.
Yesterday, book reviewer Nicole Pyles kindly published her recent interview with me. If you’d enjoy a little more insight and inspiration to continue with or create some fiction of your own, you’ll find it here:
Next weekend, I’ll have news of the free Kindle days that will be just before Christmas Day to help with your eleventh-hour gifts. Until then,
PS If you want to start the series:
Just one more day. The excitement mounts! Tomorrow, paperback fans, you will, literally, be able to get your hands on the real-deal, hard copy of new new British, humorous cozy paranormal mystery sequel, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley
Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets will be free to download from Amazon from tomorrow for three days (29 – 31 October). Here’s a video to entertain you and that you might like to share, if you have friends who enjoy cozies.
Meanwhile, here is the new paperback cover of Book 4, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, beautifully illustrated by our new talented artist, Daniel Becerril Ureña. In addition, he has given Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets, a makeover, and here it is ahead of tomorrow’s first free day. Daniel has led a fascinating life to date traveling the world, enhancing his skills. An interview with him is coming up here presently. There will also be an interview with professional beta-reader Flora Gatehouse. If you’ve every wondered how to turn your hobby into something more, see how Flora made her journey.
If you’re new to the Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mystery series, you might like to watch the trailer for Book 1, to get a taste of it. The ‘Inspiration’ page will tell you about the real Sunken Madley, the village where Amanda lives and most of the action takes place. If there is anything you would like to ask me, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.
Looking forward to being back with a launch report for you, and news of the next highlight.
It’s Movie Day! You’ve seen the title, you’ve seen the cover … now here’s the film: the trailer for Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley. The new sequel in the British cosy paranormal mystery launches on Sunday, and there will be only two more significant events in the run-up between now and then. But first, the trailer:
Next stop, the chapter 1 video.
Remember, you can join the series with Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, free from Amazon at the weekend. That’s this Saturday and Sunday, 28th and 29th September 2019.
The launch day clock is ticking …
Oll an gwella (best wishes)
Hot off the virtual press in its final incarnation comes the full cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, fourth in the British cosy paranormal mystery series.
It’s all thanks to our new illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña who has been labouring tirelessly to get it to you today. Feedback so far has been 100 per cent positive. The cover is as the book will appear on Amazon shortly.
So what’s next? Tomorrow sees the release of the trailer! Where can you see it? Here, on YouTube (on my new channel), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, if all goes according to plan. Please let me know what you think of it so that I can build them better and better for your future viewing pleasure.
Meanwhile, the manuscript for Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley is now complete, bright and shiny, thanks to the endeavours of my superb editor, Flora Gatehouse, and the valuable contributions and suggestions offered by the VIP advance readers. There are still spaces remaining in this limited numbers group if you’d like to join for Book 5. Alternatively, you can simply keep up to date by adding yourself on the keep-in-touch page.
At the end of the week, there will be the release of the audio-video of Chapter 1 of the new book. The text will be on here so you can read, or read along, but the feedback on the visuals that go with the reading has been enthusiastic so far!
Until tomorrow …
Oll an gwella, (Cornish for ‘all the best’. Yes, still learning, by candlelight late at night.)
Only hours ago, I received, to share with you, the partial cover of Amanda Cadabra and the Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the British cosy paranormal mystery series. The full image is being perfected, as I write, by our new illustrator Daniel Becerril Ureña. It may appear here within the next day or so.
Meanwhile, here is the launch date:
Less than a week to go! As soon as it becomes available for pre-order, I’ll let you know. At that weekend, Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth will be free on Amazon Kindle for 2 days. Do if you have any fellow cosy fans you think may enjoy a visit to Sunken Madley and Cornwall? Please do let them know that they can join the series with the mere click of a button on Saturday and Sunday. 28th and 29th of September.
Meanwhile, in breaks between polishing the manuscript for you, and preparing for the Big Event, I have been learning Cornish. After all, Amanda, Granny, Grandpa, Detective Inspector Trelawney, and former Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth all hail from there in one way or another. Parts of each story are set in that land. Wicc’yeth, the magical spell language is a mixture of Old English and Cornish. It seemed only right, not to mention fascinating, to delve into the genuine article.
I have a wonderful tutor from Kesva.org who is helping me begin Grade 1, plus I’m playing on Memrise, the language learning site. Anyone care to join the journey? I have already encountered many kind people along the way, more than happy to encourage newbies like me … and, if you choose, you too!
For now then, redyoryon ger (dear readers), it’s time to get back to shining up the book and spreading the news. Back soon …