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Custom Google Map of Amanda Cadabra cozy paranormal mystery series locations

On Tour – Amanda’s World Google Map

Dear Readers,

As promised last time, here is the launch of something new for Amanda’s world, that I think you may enjoy playing with as much I did in the making of it.

The Idea

Custom Google Maps for books? I was intrigued by the recommendation in a newsletter from my favourite promoters, Books Go Social. It was probably a lonContainer of map pins on a map of Europe with an orange pin in Londong and complicated procedure, I considered, but was too intrigued to let it drop entirely. Then, during the watches of the night, the impulse came. It was Time.

Following the excellent instructions by Jennifer S Alderson, I crafted away, adding pins, first to the obvious places, like Amanda’s village of Sunken Madley, ‘lay 13 miles to the north of the Houses of Parliament, and three miles south of the border of Hertfordshire., and Parhayle, home to Detective Inspector Thomas Trelawney. Then, in a flurry of excitement, I set about adding others.

In the Real World?

But wait, how do you put fictional towns and villages on a real life Google Map? Well, if they’re based on real life places then you can. It so happens that Sunken Madley is inspired by Monken Hadley, and Parhayle by the fishing port of Looe in Cornwall. Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth lives in Mornan Bay, in a similar location to  Talland on the coast near Looe. However, Romping-in-the-Heye and Upper Muttring are simply in the vicinity of Sunken Madley rather than being pinpointable hamlets, so they had to take a backseat for this particular outing.

Left panel from Amanda's World custom GooglemPa showing 'Parhayle' text and image of Looe, Cornwall

Nevertheless, for the most part, other locations from Amanda’s world do, in fact, exist in ours.

What You Get

So having added the pins, the fun really began. You’ll see that as a result of joyful finding, editing and linking, each pin has a note about it. Most also have one or two photographs, and nearly all have an excerpt from the relevant book in the series as well as a note about its relevance to the Amanda Cadabra series. There’s even a very small hint from one pin, of the next book to come!

There is just one place that has not been pinpointed because I thought it would be too much of a potential spoiler. I won’t say which book this refers to, but I think if you’ve read it, you’ll know.

How To Play

So here it is, with 4o pins, unveiled for your entertainment. I do hope that you enjoy playing with it as much as I had creating it. You can set it to satellite view, daytime, nighttime, street view. Visit the locations, select streetview to walk around in the shoes of the characters.  Click on the pin, and a little window will come up for you to see the photo and read the excerpt. If there’s more than one photo, you should see an arrow or a number to click on, so you can view the next image.

If, by chance, you detect a place that’s missing and you deem worthy of its rightful dot, I’d be thrilled if you told me. Any suggestions for pins, images, or anything else would be enthusiastically received. It is still a work in progress and I hope to add more pins, photos and even video over time.

Ready to explore? You can either open a new full-page Google map by clicking: Full Size, use the map below or the one in the site map section here

.

Book 7, Free-to-read Book 6, and What Next?

So, I hear you ask, this is all very well, but where is the next book in the series? I have been deep in research, typing up notes and conjuring to new scenes.

Free to read from Netgalley: Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr by Holly BellIf you, or your cozy mystery fan friends have yet to read book 6 in the series, Amanda Cadabra and The Strange Case of Lucy Penlowr, this month by signing up to Netgalley, you can download it free of charge in return for a review. Although this is mainly a site for publishers, librarians, booksellers and bloggers, you can join as a consumer reviewer, as many enthusiastic readers do. From time to time books for the Amanda Cadabra series have appeared on Netgalley. Often authors and publishers post new work before publication there so it can be a treasure trove of to-be-discovered literary gems.

I have also, as is my wont whenever possible, gone in search of more picturesque villages to delight your eyes and inspire my imagination of dear Sunken Madley. I hope to bring you a taste of that next time.

Happy travels,

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

 

stack of books in series, standard paperback and ereader blurred. In foreground large print version. Text: New Large Print in white

Big News – Large Print Comes to The Cozy Series

Dear Readers,

After a year of considering, researching, planning, collaborating and doing, I am delighted to bring you the first in the Amanda Cadabra series in large print. Reactions are likely to range from ‘At last!’ and ‘Great!’ to ‘Er … why?’

All Ages

Recent research has revealed the appeal of large print to be much wider than you might expect. It tempts reluctant readers,Red frames glasses on a wooden post in countryside merging into woman wearing glasses in a library especially school-age and college students. It suits those who wear glasses who, with a slight hike in font size, can read without them, as well as making reading more comfortable for those for whom lenses are a must.

According to allaboutvision.com, ‘About 75% of adults [in the USA] use some sort of vision correction’ whether glasses, contact lenses or both. Children of all ages may need glasses for varying lengths of time. Believe it or not, some people even elect to wear fake glasses as a fashion accessory or because they feel more intelligent in them. I did read it’s supposed to make you look 3 to 5 years younger too!

But I digress. Large print is where it’s at, and as the majority of my lovely readers do find glasses helpful, I have been planning to provide a more visually pleasurable experience.

Size Matters or What’s the Point?

First, something about the journey and how we arrived at the new edition. There is no definitive sheet with a how-to andposter using the words New York to show different fonts what-to for creating your own large print book. Different writers use different strategies. So I began with the basics: font (lettering style) and letter size. Of course, different letter styles are different sizes, as you can see from this poster, but let’s look at the standard fonts you see in books, newspapers and on the internet.

A standard edition book usually has a font 12 – 14 points. A point is a 72th of an inch so in real terms, just for comparison, here is a chart using the famous Times New Roman font.

From 10pt to 22pt Times New Roman

Large print is defined by the American Council for the Blind as 18 – 20 pt; the RNIB here in the UK has it at 16 – 18, with very large print as 20. Generally, the consensus among authors is anything over 16pt.

How to Choose?

In the interests of keeping the size of the book manageable, I decided to follow the lead set by Vellum. This is the top of the range app used for formatting. Punch in large print and you get: 16 point font and a what’s called the trim size of the book: 6.14 × 9.21 inches. The standard sized Amanda Cadabra paperback is 5.25 x 8. So the new large print edition is just over an inch taller, and less than an inch wider. It’s also only very slightly thicker. There are also plenty of standard print size books that are this size, so you probably already have a shelf where it will fit nicely.

In case you’re curious, the point system stems from the days of printing using blocks of metal. The point was the smallest unit of measurement that was — sort of — agreed upon. It was used to measure the size of the actual block on which the letter sat. The best explanation I have come across is here: https://www.quora.com/How-is-font-size-measured.

If you are an author and would like to know the full specs used for the large print edition of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, you can find them in a special post written just for you (and the interested reader too, of course).

The Journey

Road running through English countrysideAt first, I thought I could DIY it. Then I discovered that there’s more to large print than just bumping up the size of the font. I took the path as far as frustration allowed until I knew it was time to turn it over to a professional. The search began. It led me, happily, to the virtual door of Graphic Production Artist, Daria Lacy (on Upwork), over on the west coast of the USA. Although living 5000 miles apart, we hit it off instantly.

Daria reformatted the standard paperback to make it look more professional, then created the large print version. She patiently tutored me through any cleaning up I needed to do, and in the procedure for creating and using her new versions as templates for Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets. Although involving a bit of a learning curve it was transforming into a joyful experience for me, and having Daria there as a safety net means I can confidently go on to create large print versions of the rest of the series bit by bit.

The Art of Large Print

Finally, there was the cover. Daniel, our wonderful illustrator, was already creating a new one for Book 1, but this was the first larger size cover he’d made. It took a few goes with fine-tuning and proof copies for checking, but at last, the spine lettering was dead centre and the title likewise. The large print version passed Amazon KDP paperback publishing quality control, and now, as I write this, I have the very first printed copy on my desk, all bright and shiny and ready for you, my esteemed readers.

Decisions, Decisions

So, you may be wondering, when are the next 5 books going to be available in large print? There was a choice of two paths:Back view of woman with a red door and a blue door in the background - which to choose? either to wait while the covers for Books 2 and 3 were being redesigned Daniel or to bring out large print versions with the existing covers. Soon Daniel will be going to work on the cover for the next book in the series, Amanda Cadabra 7. So the new Book 2 cover will have to wait for at least a month. And that would be just for Book 2.

In the end, it was some words from our editor Kim that crystalised things for me. It seemed logical that if readers who prefer large print enjoyed Book 1, they wouldn’t mind that much what the cover of the next large print book in the series would look like. Nevertheless, we still want to bring you the best and brightest jackets we can, so new coats for Books 2 and 3 are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, here, for your entertainment, is the new version of the Book 1 trailer featuring the new covers and the new large print:

Grey gat on left and Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth on ereader, paperback and large print paperback on the right

So … When?

Yes, let’s cut to the chase. I’m now formatting between writing Book 7 and launching the first book in large print, so I can’t give you a date but will keep you in the loop here and on Facebook. The main thing is that as many readers as possible will have the opportunity to try the series on the for size with Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth.

Next time, I’ll be launching something new for Amanda’s world, that you might enjoy playing with. It was immense fun to create. I think you’ll like it.

Happy Midsummer!
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

Pile of Amanda Cadabra paperback 1-5 with Book 6 leaning against it. Amanda Cadabra 6. Partly transparent. :text Now in the conjuring. It top left a golden disk with text: Book 1 Kindle Deal $1.49

New Sequel News, and Kindle Deal for Book 1

Dear Readers

Double Extra

Hoping you are all well and happy, I am here to deliver two items of big news to you.

First of all, I was bobbing with excitement when I received an email from Amazon congratulating me. For what? They had selected Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, Book 1 of the series, for a Kindle Deal!

This means it is made available to readers for a special price. For how long? A whole month? And not just anyCelebration, silhouette of people dancing against sunset/sunrise old month: the Christmas month! And where? Although they have yet to see the light about extending this globally, they have chosen Canada and the USA. How much? I admit the image above may have given this away: $1.49

Why was a I Snoopy-dancing that this point? Because this is a huge vote of confidence from Amazon in both the first book and the series. They clearly believe that there is a much wider audience out there who would love to join the party, and Amazon are doing their best to reach them. We can, therefore, look forward to more visitors to the world of Amanda Cadabra and our beloved village of Sunken Madley.

Book 6 – New Sequel

Steam train with AMANDA 6 on the frontHowever, I also have something for those of you already on the trail. I am now 40,000 words into the first draft of Amanda Cadabra Book 6. I have begun the first editing pass. This is the one that fills out the book to about double the number of words. The working title has changed a little from the one readers may have spotted at the end of Book 5. More of that to come.

January 2021

At present, the working, possibly ambitious, plan is to get to it to you, all bright and shiny, during the first or second month of 2021. We’ll see. My dear editor Kim has pencilled me in for the beginning of January. Daniel, our esteemed illustrator, will have paintbrush poised, ready to go, in a couple of weeks. So it’s fingers a-blur here to get it to you on schedule.

Meanwhile, if you know of anyone who might like the first book, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, either at the deal price (in North America) or as a paperback Christmas present for themselves or a giftee, please spread the word. The more, the merrier.

Back soon with more news on the new sequel.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

 

 

 

 

3 hot air balloons in blue sky. White text: Free BookDay, Paperback Launch, Trailer Launch (of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths)

New Book Trailer, Paperback Launch, and Final Free Day

Dear Readers,

Goodies aplenty have been in the making here at Heypressto.

Launched!

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

Image link to trailer video for Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths - Vintage magnifying glass in front of antique books. Text inside lens in white: Can you judge a book by its cover?

Free Chapter 1 of the New ReleaseDublin Interntional Writers Festival Magazine Cover with Chapter 1 of new Amanda Cadabra Book 5

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.

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hold Truth in e-reader on sofa with cream cusions and text: Start the journey free today - free download from Amazon 12 September 2020

How Come?

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,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Amanda Cadabra Book 1 in ereader on table with greenery in the backgroun. Text: Free on Amazon 24, 25th August. Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth by Holly Bell

Free First Book in Cozy Mystery Series

Dear Readers,

Free

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.

 

Bird in blue sky with text in white: Free. Link image to video for free days for Amanda Cadabra Book 1

Why?

‘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.

How?

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,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Amanda Cadabra Book 5 on e reader on wooden table next to edge of cup and saucer

Now Launched – Amanda Cadabra Book 5, & Free Days

Dear Readers,

Blast Off!

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.

 

Link image to video: Red apple on dark background with text in white: It's ripe - launch video for Amanda Cadabra and the Hidden Depths

Free Days

Tebook in ereader Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, leaning on a picnic basket with wild flowers on the lefto 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.

Calm Waters

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.

girl smiling in kayak on white waterWild Ride

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.

Paperback

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.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

Cover Reveal - Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths by Holly Bell

Cover Reveal – Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths

Dear Readers,

First Glance

Coloured pencils with tips forming a heart shapeIt was love at first sight. Just over two weeks ago, our outstanding illustrator Daniel sent me four sketches from which to choose. I had a breathless moment when I laid eyes on the fourth one. I kept looking back at it. Knowing it might be the most challenging of all of the compositions, I was confident Daniel could make it work.

Balancing Act and Countdown

I’d given Daniel two or three possible cover scenes from the story. They would need to be arresting and attractive but with no spoilers. There also needed to be some continuity with the previous covers in the series.

Daniel was due to go on leave shortly. He sent me the various stages, and I asked for tweaks that he patiently made. Knowing how industrious he is, the last thing I wanted was for Daniel to have to work on my project during his vacation. With just 4 hours to go until his departure, the cover was done!

Cover of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths - girl in orange sleevless dress with wand, books in the background. Pile of books on floor in foreground with cat on top

This Weekend

Rocket launchingHere it is for your viewing pleasure. For me, it’s the best Daniel has produced for the Amanda Cadabra series. I was thrilled. My mentor’s reaction was — and please bear in mind that he works in graphics — ‘Wow, classy.’

We are only days away from the launch of the book, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths, so I’m working on the trailer video now. The book is due to become available this weekend on Amazon, first of all for Kindle.

As though things weren’t happening fast enough, Book 6 has started writing itself! If you would like to know what the title of that new book will be … you’ll find it at the end of Book 5, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths.

Back on launch day with news of trailer movie magic and the paperback edition.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

AC5 title reveal blog post featured image

Title Reveal of New Cozy Mystery – Amanda Cadabra 5

Dear Readers,

Amanda Cadabra Returns

After a long and winding road this year, I was reunited with my first love and what readers want most from me: writing books. Hence the recent dearth of blogging, tweeting and Facebooking. With everything else on the back burner, Amanda Cadabra Book 5 burst into life and is almost ready to emerge into the light of day. Beginning with — drum roll, please — the title:

And it is …

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths - in black text on dark teal satin ribbon

 

What if you’re new to the series?

Amanda Cadabra Book 5 at the meeting of two rainbowsThis is the fifth in the British humorous cozy paranormal mystery series. Do you need to have read the first four books? No. It has its very own murder mystery, as does each of the novels. However, you’ll enjoy the story even more if you’ve read the preceding volumes. Why? Because there is an overarching story arc that comes to its conclusion in Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths. However, the new tale is also the jumping-off point for a new thread that will flow through books to come, so it’s also an excellent place to join the joy-ride.

There are a couple of spoilers in order to do a catch-up for new readers, and as a reminder. That’s just in case it’s been a while since you read book 4, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley. By the way, in case you’re thinking of diving into the series, all of the books, 1- 4 are available in paperback as well as on Kindle.

What’s the series about?

Amanda Cadabra is an asthmatic furniture restorer and covert witch from the age of six. Her abode is the quaint English village of Sunken Madley, full of endearing eccentrics. Brought up by her loving magical grandparents, Amanda knows she must keep her unusual gifts a secret. Among them is a strange connection with her familiar, the irascible feline, Tempest. The other, ghastly members of her family met their end at the bottom of a Cornish cliff after a van accident. Or did they? The how and why are the cold case investigated by the personable but intractable Detective Inspector Trelawney throughout the series to date.

Free

ebook in ereader Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, leaning on a picnic basket with wild flowers on the leftBook 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, will be free to download from Amazon for a couple of days after Book 5 launches. So you or your friends can try it on for size, and see if Amanda and Sunken Madley draw you in.

Book Launch Line-up

What then can you expect in terms of the book arriving on your screen or doormat? There will shortly be a cover reveal (our illustrator Daniel has been busily conjuring it), a trailer video and, at the end of the month, the first chapter will be free for you to read in a special edition of the International Dublin Writers Festival magazine. This coming weekend look out for the launch of Kindle version of Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths. The paperback will follow as soon as my fingers can format it.

Where we’re at

Right now, the manuscript has come back from our star of an editor, Flora, and most of the sensational beta readers of the VIP Readers Group. The feedback so far has been everything any author could wish for.

Back soon with more news and hopefully, the unveiling of the new cover.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available on Amazon
Paperback and Kindle

COVID-19 in a Cozy Mystery - Do You Want It? Cosy scene of coffee mug on book and next to it a white mask with a green tick above a red cross

COVID-19 in a Cozy Mystery – Do You Want It?

Dear Readers,

What Is Your Pleasure?

Having written to you last week about health matters in fiction, this time, we get down to the nitty-gritty. Do you want the coronovirus, COVID-19, in the next Amanda Cadabra book?

CluesClues: Magnifying glass over 3 fingerprints

‘Your readers will tell you what they want.’ Three years ago, with the first book Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth newly published, my mentor TJ Brown said this to me. And he’s been right. So without polling, I’ve had to make a decision about whether to include the current health-related situation in the book now being written.

Why There’s An Issue

The Amanda Cadabra books are plotted in real-time. That means the Book 5 takes place during the late winter and early spring of 2020, culminating in the Equinox Ball at The Grange. That date, 22nd March, heralded the onset of the C-19 lockdown in the UK. Should it go in, or not?

Let’s pick this apart.

Where Could Corona Be Welcome?Wooden welcome sign set in a hedge with flowers

First, does the virus have a place in fiction at all? Yes, dystopian fantasy, drama, crime, thriller and horror could all comfortably accommodate it. The once fictional pandemic is now a familiar situation.

What about cozy mystery, though? Surely a situation that results in stress and hardship would be anomalous in a cozy setting. Or would it? Just like poison, it could be used as a murder weapon. Admittedly, it would not necessarily be a very reliable one, but nevertheless, it is a possibility.

Furthermore, by its very nature, the conditions resulting from coronavirus have both separated people from those they usually associate with but brought them together with others. Throw this into the mix, and it could make things interesting without actually introducing a single incidence of the illness.

In Sunken Madley?English village church and house - 'Sunken Madley'

However, in the case of Amanda Cadabra, the village of Sunken Madley is its own microcosm. The modern political situation is never mentioned (with the exception of a passing reference to library closures in Book 5) nor is it a topic of discussion there. The villagers have what they consider to be more interesting, immediate and closer to hand matters to discuss. Like St Mary Mead, the home Agatha Christie assigned to her sleuth Miss Marple, Sunken Madley operates within its own sphere.

The appeal of Agatha Christie’s cozy whodunits, apart from their puzzles, is their escapism. That’s a vital part of the essence of the genre. Add in the paranormal element, and that takes us even further into that pleasurable zone.

From What You’ve Told Me

Readers and reviewers have expressed their pleasure in the world of Sunken Madley and their time spent there. And when this period of the pandemic is over, is it really going to be something cozy readers will want to revisit or forget?

There is also the matter of, in practice, to what extent would it rock the village? No one gets ill in Sunken Madley. The senior citizens are probably the most physically robust people in the hamlet. The dream team of Mrs Sharma of the Corner Shop and Mr Sharma of the pharmacy would ensure everyone was supplied with all that they needed.

The DecisionBrass vintage scales - decision

What about social distancing? And there’s the rub. The Corner Shop conferences are highlights and essential of every book. So are the seasonal dances.

Consequently, you can rest assured that the world of Amanda Cadabra will remain COVID 19-free. The only health issue is Amanda’s asthma and therein, as readers know, lies a tale ….

Latest

Meanwhile, Amanda Cadabra Book 5 is steadily gaining ground, now at 35% of the way through.

Until next week, wishing you well, and cosily at home with a good book.

Happy reading,

Holly


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

Available

on

Amazon, Apple Books,
Kobo, Barnes & Noble and others.

Cornish connect - to a coz mystery?flower and steaming cup on book fading into Cornish scenery

The Cornish Connection – To An English Cozy Mystery?

Dear Readers,

Finding CornwallFinding Cornwall. Coast, path leading to a remote house

How did Cornwall do it? How did worm its way into the heart of a series mainly set an English village to the north of London? Depending on where you live or are from, you may ask, as someone enquired of me, ‘Where is Cornwall?
It’s in the south-west of mainland Britain, the bit under Wales that spikes out into the Atlantic pointing off towards the distant shores of The New World.

What’s So Special?

Cornwall and the Cornish were regarded as a separate place and people until the fourteenth century, by those on both sides of the border. Cornwall has its own language, it’s own flag, customs and heritage. In 2014 the UK government granted the Cornish minority status and the Cornish tongue given funding to encourage its spread and development.

Dead and Gone?

Neither. The traditional opinion is that the last native speaker Dolly Pentreath breathed her last in 1777. However, there is a body of evidence that suggests it never entirely died out at all. Cornwall is a land of remote nooks and crannies, plus families migrated to other parts of the world but took their language with them.

Today there are bilingual speakers and a stream of new learners. The presence of support groups and organisations for students, Cornish books in libraries and schools, events (most famously the Gorsedh), poetry, literature, and songs are all testimony to a living breathing and thriving language.

Mysterious?Daphne du Maurier - author of Rebecca

Oh yes, tales of pixies, ghosts and giants, are coupled with romantic landscape from plummeting cliffs, crashing waves, soft sands, rolling hills and the bleak beauty of the moors. These have drawn artists and writers for hundreds of years. One, in particular, raised Cornwall in the public consciousness: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Jamaica Inn – haunted, one case a man by his past and the other by strange lights and sounds in the dead of night!

Mist and mystery, the quintessential ‘country’ accent, the ‘oo arr, Jim lad’ of the stereotypical pirate, the crafty smugglers, the lone lighthouse, the golden light of the remote inn welcoming the weary traveller are an irresistible cocktail. All of these make it the perfect association for not just a cozy mystery but a cosy paranormal one.
So how did it entwine itself with the fictional English village of Sunken Madley?

Back to the Roots

For this, we must return to the very inception of the series. Once I had the name Amanda Cadabra, her character and history formed before my very eyes. She was an orphan, her family had gone over a cliff when she was an infant. What cliffs were at my disposal? Cornwall immediately came to mind. Suitably dramatic coastline.
What were they doing there? They were Cornish. Therefore Amanda is Cornish and, therefore, so are her grandparents.

Next, we needed a police presence. He is investigating the cold case of the Cornish accident. Therefore he is Cornwall, and he is Cornish, like his boss, Chief Inspector Hogarth. A typical Cornish name for our hero? Thomas Trelawney, Detective Inspector.

Magical LanguageYoung wizard with a magic scroll - cartoon

As the plot began to form, I also realised I need the ingredient of a magical language. What alternatives were there? Latin as so skilfully used by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter Books, spells used in Disney films, the Elvish of Tolkein or just plain made-up. So it came to me that a melange would be a way of connecting Cornwall and England. I read that witches, wise women and men, from both sides of the border supported one another, especially during the decades of the infamous witch trials. What if that led to a mixture of Cornish and old English. Using online dictionaries, I cobbled together spells words and phrases. In doing so, I became curious about the structure of each tongue.

The Real Thing

On impulse I began to research. Discovering the Cornish revival, it seemed only respectful to honour it by learning how to speak and write it properly. The flame was of fascination burned higher. I found an online course with Kesva, the Cornish Language Board, and more resources at Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek, the Cornish Language Fellowship. The first email of enquiry was written, I was put in contact with a tutor, I found my way to Cornish language books and the book shops that sell them. At Christmas, I came upon Keur Heb Hanow, a singing quartet, and corresponded with one of them. I dug for Facebook groups and found a home with We Love Kernewek, Our Cornish Language. Everywhere I went, I found kind and helpful people.

Wish Fulfillment

And all the while, the dream of visiting grew stronger. That is soon to come true. Amanda Cadabra has thus brought me yet another whole new circle of friends, experience. When I come back from Cornwall, I’ll have new photos, videos and stories to share with you, dear readers.

Meanwhile, I have Amanda Cadabra Book 5 to continue writing and Cornish revision to do! Back soon …

Happy discovering,

Holly


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

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