Tag Archives for " village mystery "

Whose Rules? Three teddy bears looking at a book with gavel in the foreground

English – Whose Rules OK?

Dear Readers,

We all agree that ‘write’ ‘book and ‘read’ should be spelt just so. Those are the agreed correct order of letters. I promised you a couple of weeks, in my post about misspelling, to give attention to The Rules. Precisely, what happens when we don’t all agree?

What rules are we talking about? So far, what I’ve written would pass the spell-checker, editor, beta reader and eagle-eyed book-fan everywhere. Now let’s try this:

Spot the DifferenceSpot the difference between two houses on the background of a page from the dictionary

I realise I was late for the theatre. But I had a flat tyre. I asked Dr Smith for help, but he said, ‘On my honour, I don’t know how! These wheels are aluminium. Can’t we just have a cosy chat?’

Now, depending on where you live, you may take exception to 7 things in that paragraph and declare about each of them,’ Whoever wrote that got it wrong.’ And if you live in the USA, you would be right. In US English it would read:

I realize was late for the theater. But had a flat tire. I asked Dr. Smith for help, but he said, “On my honor, I don’t know how! These wheels are aluminum. Can’t we just have a cosy chat?”

The first is British (or UK) English. The second American English. If you were taking a spelling test in one and used the other, then you would almost certainly lose points. New Zealand and Australia use mostly UK English. South Africa uses the identical form. Canada, as one would expect from the world’s third favourite nation, is easy-going, recognises both and comfortably straddles UK and US variants.

Pick One And Commitpick one and commit: girl walking in park towards crossroads

As an author, that’s what I have to do. Well, sort of. I use British spelling throughout my novels and nearly always in these letters. Nearly? Yes, you may have noticed that I usually spell ‘cosy’ – as we do in the UK – as ‘cozy’. Gasp, shock, horror. Why this anomaly? It is because the title of the genre in which I write the Amanda Cadabra series listed as ‘cozy’. Generally speaking, the subgenre is written as ‘cozy paranormal mystery’. Check on Amazon, Kobo, or Itunes. Yes, but surely British publishing houses …? No, even Penguin describes that shelf with a ‘z’ Which, incidentally, here we pronounce as ‘zed’.

So, often the best you, as an author, can do is to pick a side: with exceptions, where necessary. ‘Why this moral elasticity?’ you may ask? For the sake of clarity. As writers, we are here to convey our story to you, in the most entertaining, enjoyable way possible. As my books are set in a village here in the UK, using British English is my way of seasoning the dish for your delectation. If anything does trip you up, each novel has a glossary of UK-US English terms used within the pages, and here on the website, you’ll find one too.

Your Rights As A Reader

It is reasonable to have certain expectations as the literary consumer. If you’re reading a novel set in Oklahoma in which all of the characters are locals, then you can anticipate that the book will use US spelling. What if someone rides in from England? You would still expect their dialogue to be written using US English because that doesn’t affect the pronunciation.

On the other hand, if the story is set in London, then it will almost certainly use UK spelling.

How about non-fiction? There are no holds barred here. An Australian author writing a treatise for the Australian market on the history of population movement from America may choose Australian English because of the intended target market. On the other hand, if the book was about emigration from Australia to the US and written for the American students, for example, then the author may choose US spelling.

The Rules?tubs of difference coloured and flavoured icecream

The fact is that on a global level, the rule is that there are variants. The variant is only a letter or two difference. And what is a letter or two between friends? And there are only two versions or each one, as far as I remember. It’s hardly mayhem and revolution. Think of it as two flavours.

What’s In A Name?

In the end, language is a vehicle. It is a means to convey meaning, to create emotion, to enable us to understand one another, to co-operate, to share, to inspire, to co-create even. The widespread use of sign language, the facial expression, the body posture is testimony to the written word as just one way. Of them all, the written word is the love of my life. I love British English. Yes, it looks ‘right’ to me. But who would want to eat just one flavour ice-cream all the time?

Amanda Cadabra Book 5 continues to develop with a brand new minor character. Back next week with more thoughts for your entertainment.

Happy nearly spring!

Holly


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

Available

on

Amazon

5 Things you learn from writing your novel. Sunset with sihouettes of 5 graduation caps and one pen in the air. Hands at the bottom of the frame from thowing up the caps

5 Things You Learn From Writing A Novel

Dear Readers,

Unexpected Goodies

Writing, like having a student, teaches you. Well, of course, it gets you practising your craft, but there are 5 bonus extras.

For example, in the process of writing the Amanda Cadabra books, I have been enlightened on, among other things, joinery, architecture, Hertfordshire, the history of witchcraft, Cornwall, explosions, structural integrity, the paranormal, treatments for asthma, clinic design, reception areas, churches, stately homes, hidey-holes, cats and apples.

Broadly speaking, they all fall in a small number of categories.

The Big Five

Thes are location, history, costume, language, and customs.

Ok, but why go to all this trouble when it’s just a made-up story? Can’t you simply invent it? Valid point, but the background has to be believable for the plot to flow. Anomalies are distracting. I know that my readers are smart and well-informed. The Devil is in the detail …. if you get it wrong. So how does this work in practice?

X Marks the SpotLocation - globe showing both sides of Atlantic Ocean and West Indies

For Amanda Cadabra, I had to find a village on the outskirts of a big city. Why? Because it takes place in a village, but I’ve never lived in one. So a hamlet with the demographics of a city is something I can work with. I looked on the map and I was in luck. With the first one I visited, as soon as I drove in, I knew I’d found Amanda’s home.

However, some the action takes place in Cornwall, and it’s a while since I’ve been there. I needed Google Maps, Wikipedia, tourist websites, Google images, and YouTube videos. Finally, I began to see the small town where Inspector Thomas Trelawney lives and works at the police station. Researching place names in Cornwall and Cornish, I came up with Parhayle. His boss and best friend Chief Inspector Michael Hogarth, lives in a small village near the coast. I found the perfect candidate on raised ground overlooking the water and called it Mornan Bay.

Your chosen location will dictate the local flora and fauna: which bird is singing in the hedgerow in late June, what flowers are blooming in the meadow in early May.

What if you set your story right where you live? Well, have you ever shown visitors around your town? Probably, as I have, you’ve looked up points of interest. Which bring us to … history.

History: StonehengeBack in the Day

Thanks to showing guests around my city, I learned the height of Nelson’s column, including the statue (169 feet 3 inches/61.59m), what the lions in Trafalgar Square are made of (bronze), when St Paul’s Cathedral was built (1675 to 1710), the length of Tower Bridge (800 feet/240 m), and the stone used for facing Buckingham Palace (Bath stone). Everything that exists in a village or town has a history that gives the location colour and texture.

To give Amanda’s home, Sunken Madley, I needed to research what people in villages did, how they lived. I looked up YouTubes of Village of the Year and listened to what residents said about their lives. My mentor, author TJ Brown also made me a present of two books: The British Countryside and The Book of British Villages . All of this helped me to get a sense of the location for the books.

Wearing Those ThreadsCostume research: a vintage sewing machine

If you set your story at any time in the past, you need to be able to mention, even if in passing, what your characters are wearing. Their status and income will also have a bearing on their taste in clothes. This helps the reader build a picture of each person. 

Samantha Briggs in Books 2-4, is a fashion victim who runs riot with Daddy’s credit card on Bond Street. For her, I had to research high fashion that would be worn by someone in their late teens. Vogue and reports on the various fashion weeks were a great help here. 

Amanda loves the colour orange and has a somewhat childlike sense of dress. I looked at a lot of orange clothes! Inspector Trelawney is always immaculately dressed in suit and tie. What sort of suits would he buy on a policeman’s salary? Shopstyle.com was a great help, so was GQ.

Language: close up of the word Dictionary in a dictionaryHappy Talk

Language? Well, that’s easy. English surely? However, as I wrote to you last week, there is a great deal of variety under that umbrella term: dialects and foreign or regional accents. For Amanda Cadabra, I researched the Hertfordshire accent. I found some rare footage and a recording of some elderly folk speaking the way they did in that county decades ago.

One of my favourite scenes that I tremendously enjoyed writing is of two old Cornish friends in a pub in Cornwall discussing the weather. I had to listen to YouTubes and research Cornish dialect so that I could, phonetically, convey the rich flavour of their speech.

Customs: 2 ceramic Easter bunnies, one holding an orange egg with daffodils in the backgroundThis Is How We Do It

Finally, we come to customs. These vary from place to place, just like language. And happily, they include food. I researched Cornish cuisine and reminded myself of traditional British favourites too: pasties, jam roly-poly, Victoria Sandwich, marmalade roll, scones and fairy cakes. Amanda, Trelawney and Hogarth each were given a favourite biscuit.

So there you have it. Novel writing is an education, but researching for your story is so much fun you don’t realise along the way just how much you are learning. You become five departments in your film production: costume designer, location manager, dialect coach, background researcher and local consultant. This is one of the great joys of being a novelist. And I am convinced that everyone has a novel in them.

I know that I promised to write more about writing in ‘English’ and just how elastic a term that is, and I shall come back to that.

Latest

Chapter 8 of Amanda Cadabra 5 has gone into the ring binder (which means its in it’s near-to-finshed form), and the book makes steady progress towards its release in the spring. The first of my crocuses opened today, and I drove past the first magnificent display of daffodils I have seen this year. So, the new novel is shooting up with the flowers. Back soon with more titbits from the writing life.

Happy Almost Spring,

Holly


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

Available

on

Amazon

Do You Speak English - Foreigners in Fiction. Countryside with signposts: Our village, next village 1 (mile) Pointing in the same direction: Foreign Parts 1 (mile)

‘Do You Speak English?’ – Fabulous Foreigners in Fiction

Dear Readers,

What Do We Mean by ‘English’?

Before I first put pen to paper, or should I say, finger to key, on my first novel, I had a decision to make. What sort of English was I going to use? The answer to ‘do you speak English?’ is not a simple one.

If you’ve ever had a new phone, tablet, or other mobile decide, likely you’ve been asked to set up the languageBlue circle with flag, US on one diagonal and UK on the other. Below is the word English you prefer. Sometimes it’s defined by country. Usually as English, as spoken in England, Britain, and conversely as spoken in the USA. At other times, especially in dictionaries, the alternatives are categorised as ‘as spoken in North America’ or outside of it.

What is the difference? For example, here in the UK, we spell words such as colour and neighbour with a ‘u’ apposed to ‘color’ and ‘neighbor’ in the US. ‘Theatre’ rather than ‘theater’, ‘surprise’ rather than ‘surprise’ are two more instances. Which to choose?

The Amanda Cadabra novels are set in Britain, and so, as a British author, I choose UK English. But how to provide for those who might not be 100 per cent familiar with it? Simple; at the end of each book and here on the website, readers will find a glossary of UK-US terms and usage.

Regional

Good. So it’s all in UK English, then? Yes, but not everyone speaks in the same way throughout the UK. Accents vary tremendously. The books include Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Hertfordshire and Cockney ways of pronouncing words. You may, upon a New Year’s Eve, have sung Auld Lang Syne. That’s the Scottish way of saying Old Long Since or, for old time’s sake. Beloved Sunken Madley resident Sylvia is from the East End of London, she’s a Cockney, and so she drops her ‘h’s. Hence she says ‘ello rather than hello.

Of course, there are also ways of pronouncing English that are special to any particular English-speaking country. Consequently, we have the favourite carer at Pipkin Acres Residential Home, Australian Megan, hailing a visitor called Gwendolen as ‘Gwindolen’ and Amanda as ‘Amenda’.

Foreign?

The word ‘foreign’ is a descendant of the Latin word meaning ‘outside’. That could be just ‘outside your village’ even. In Sunken Madley, retired headmaster Gordon French makes a point of reminding Amanda about newcomers. As he puts it, they are ‘not Village.’

In the days when most travelling was on foot, neighbouring settlements even a couple of miles apart, especially over steep terrain, were divided by the time it took to make the journey. In comparative isolation, each hamlet could develop their own unique ways of expressing identical ideas.

To this day, Cornish people, in the south-west of the UK, refer to Brits on the other side of the Tamar River, the traditional boundary of their land, as being ‘Up North’. Here on the other side of the River, we use the same term to mean the part of England up towards the Scottish border.

However, all in all, customarily today, we use the word ‘foreign’ as a designation of another country.

world mapDialect and Language

Along with accents are words that are peculiar to a region or land. ‘Ken’ can be used in Scotland for ‘know’. ‘Bairn’ can be heard in the north of the UK for ‘child’.

Next we move into actual foreign tongues. The Cornish language term bian frequently appears in the novels, as Grandpa’s term of affection for Amanda, meaning ‘baby’ or ‘little one’. There is a Frenchman in a Book 4, Amanda Cadabra and The Rise of Sunken Madley, who speaks in French. In Book 1 we have some Swedish too. How to deal with these so readers can understand the words and sentences? The convention is put all foreign words in italics. As they will be likely unfamiliar, it will be apparent that the italics are not for emphasis so that flags them up as non-English. How to convey their meaning? There are two ways. One is by context, the other is by direct translation. Here’s an example of the first one

Muchas gracias,’ said the girl.

‘You’re welcome,’ he replied.

Even if you don’t know a word of Spanish, you can gather that what she said was ‘thank you.’

For the second method, here is an example from Book 1, Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, for the use of the magical language of Wicc’yeth, spoken by the Amanda and her grandparents:

Forrag Seothe Macungreanz A Aclowundre,’ Amanda read the title, and attempted a translation. ‘For the Making of … Wonderful
Things? ‘

The third way to clarify foreign language usage in a novel is to use English but state that the protagonists are now speaking in another language.

Why Do It?

Why complicate matters? Why not just make everyone in the books English.Yellow orange and green books. Text: Make it colourful, Make it Colorful
First, because adding accents, dialect and terms from other languages words, adds texture, colour, variety and even entertainment in the misunderstandings that can arise.

Second, Sunken Madley is on the outskirts of London. The capital of England is one of the most culturally diverse in the world. So a village on its outskirts would naturally reflect that. This kind of consistency with the real world is vital for creating a story that is believable. The goal is to makes it as easy as possible for you to suspend disbelief and be carried into the narrative, to care about the characters, and to see it as easily as possible in your mind’s eye.
Why make in on the edge of a city at all? Why not make it in the depths of the countryside?

Simply because I want to follow the advice to ‘write what you know.’ I have never lived in a village. I have stayed in them and know people who have lived in them, but I have never had the actual experience. As a city girl born and bred, the edge of London is the best I can do. And you, my dear readers, deserve my best.

Book 5 is now climbing towards 20,000 words, which is about a quarter of the way through. Today I weaved in another strand!  Back soon with more insights in the world of creating fiction and news.

Happy February!

Holly

 

An Author's Real-life Mystery - the inside of the Monken Hadley church lit with red light and smoke effect with the image of Captain Tempest-Hicks in the top right hand corner

A Real-Life Mystery for A Cozy Author

Dear Readers,

The Mystery

Light streams up through the darkness of the ancient church colouring the stained glass windows. I didn’t see it. IReal-life Mystery - red light coming through church windows heard it. And I was sure I must have been mistaken.

Moments later, there it is was on the screen. I exchanged wide-eyed glances with my friend sitting on the same pew. Yes, she had heard it too: the name.

Son et Lumière

The fictional village of Sunken Madley, in which all of the Amanda Cadabra British humorous cozy paranormal mysteries are set, is based on a real place. Its name: Monken Hadley, a small community with a thousand-year-old history just north of London. This year they are celebrating 525 years since the rebuilding of the medieval church, most likely damaged in the Battle of Barnet. Every quarter of a century, this restoration is marked with a special event. Only a few days ago, in 2019, it was a retelling the story of the church and village in a spectacular Son et Lumière, sound and light.

son et lumiere in old churchThe Story

The event started at 3.30pm, but by the time the startling revelation occurred, it was already night outside. The monks of the old priory, the opposing sides of the famous battle, the gentry and the philanthropists of long ago had passed and sounded before our eyes and ears. The tale had reached the period of the first world war. The narrator spoke of a memorial stone on the walls of the building where we sat, dedicated to one … and that was when my ears pricked up…

How It All Began

In the winter of 2018, my author pal TJ Brown convinced me that I could pen a cozy paranormal mystery. I had beenTempest Amanda Cadabra grey cat with yellow eyes adamant for years that I was strictly a non-fiction writer and fantasy was way beyond my ken. But Tim knew better. He encourage me to go off to research the genre, and presently we sat down together to begin the process of creation. First, we needed a name for the heroine. I knew it had to be something to do with magic. With a thesaurus list before us, we tried out different forenames and surnames, googled possible variations to see if they’d been used. The clock ticked away. We began growing tired and then … playing around with Abracadabra .. Tim came out with it: Amanda Cadabra! I repeated it in my head. Yes. We’d found her.

Suddenly, I heard the name, the name of her cat, I knew he was a collection of greys, he had livid yellow eyes and was permanently grumpy. It was the first name and the first thing that came to me. I had never seen it as a person’s name before, I knew it only as a weather system and the title of a Shakespeare play.

Finding Home

In the days that followed as I began to get a sense of Amanda and her familiar. I knew I had to find the right location for them. It had to be a village, and as I’d never lived in Sunken Madley - Monken Hadley church against blue sky, trees on left, yellow flowers in the foregroundone, it had to be on the outskirts of a big city. I pulled up Google maps and began the search.

I’d have said that I knew the area pretty well, but I had no recollection of having seen the name of this particular village. Soon I was in the car and heading along the A1000, itself with a long history. Off the beaten track I went, by a pond, between trees and around the bend.

Behold. I knew: I had found my village, the village of Monken Hadley. Of course, I couldn’t call it that, so what about transposing the first letters … Hunken Madley? No … not quite right … another word ending in ‘unken’ … sunken … and it was born: Sunken Madley.

I tell you all of this, so you will understand why what I heard in the dim echoes of the church on that dark afternoon was so startling. I had no prior knowledge or use of that word as a pronoun or of that village.

How?

Captain Tempest-Hicks Monken HadleySo we’re in the dark of the church, sitting in a pew near the back looking up at the big screen, with the rest of the audience. We are hearing the saga of Monken Hadley and the officer whose efforts were instrumental in the achievement of the peace of 1918. Sadly he died just weeks before the end of the World War 1. His name? Charles Tempest-Hicks. The name of Amanda’s magical cat? Tempest.

Shivers ran down my spine, chills of excitement. Was the brave captain my muse? Had he been a cat lover? Was I being inspired? What would you say is the answer to the real-life mystery? Do share your thoughts with me.

Thanks

Regardless, I am overjoyed that Tim motivated me to begin my cozy mystery journey, that he thought of Amanda Cadabra, that Tempest came to me. It is a source of continuing delight that Monken Hadley somehow drew me, that I have met so many kind people there, and that I travel back in time whenever I visit, Through writing this series, I have connected with all the dear readers who help and support and encourage me. I am thrilled to be on the journey of a lifetime, and that you join me in it. Thank you.

What it was all for

This year the sound and light show raised money for the restoration of a precious listed building, the 400-year-old church house, so that it can serve the community as was intended. And believe me, the entire community, from young to old all participated in creating the 525 experience. Seeing them waving happily at us in the closing credits brought a lump to my throat. Proceeds from tickets and donations also went to  to the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.

If you’re ever passing, do pop into the church of St Mary the Virgin, Monken Hadley. You can be assured a warm welcome and a moving and enchanting experience. It delighted at least one of our American cousins so much that it became the model for a church built in Chappacua, USA.

Next week: an offer and something new for December to help with your Christmas shopping. Want to get to know Tempest? Download your free short story here: Tempest’s First Day. Back soon!

Best wishes,

Holly


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

Available

on

Amazon

Text free short story, Tempest's first day and photo of half the face of grey cat

New Short Story, and Saturday Night Special

Dear Readers,

This weekend I have for you a new free short story, never before published, only available here. After all, I finished itcozy book and hot drink only a week ago! For those of you who have read the first book in the British humorous cosy paranormal mystery Amanda Cadabra series, this will fill an enigmatic gap.

For brand new readers it introduces the quaint English village of Sunken Madley, asthmatic furniture restorer and covert witch, Amanda, her right-hand cat Tempest, Granny, Grandpa and some notable residents, including Tempest’s Achilles heel, the alluring Natasha.

We first hear of Tempest, the ever-grumpy feline familiar-to-be, at dead of night, on the Cadabra’s workshop bench. Witches Senara and Perran, alias Granny and Grandpa, have just reincarnated the storm cloud of greys with the glaring citrine gaze. He disappears for several hours before returning to meet their 15-year old granddaughter Amanda. But during that missing time, where was he? What was he doing? All is revealed in:

Tempest’s First Day

Cat close up and cover of free cozy paranormal mystery story Tempest's First Day

Subscribers and VIP Readers have been sent their copy. To download the story as either a PDF or a Word doc (just drop me a line for any other format) click on the link below. I do hope that you delight in this cat’s tale. Please let me know what you thought of it. It would be a great pleasure to hear from you.

Meanwhile, here is a Saturday night special of three recommendations for the perfect cosy combo.

Nicole Pyles, blogger, poet, short-story writer and video-creator kindly allowed me to guest post for her here:

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/2019/11/3-suggestions-holly-bell.html

The World of My Imagination header white on blue

At Nicole’s online home, you will find the trio of tips to make your weekend evening. Again, I’d love to hear what you think of them. In The World of My Imagination blog, you will also discover more Saturday Night inspiration, and recommendations of more cosy mysteries. floral painted typewriterIn particular, however, as book lovers, do check out Nicole’s video channel. Here’s a taster of a unique (in my experience so far) art form combining, poetry, visuals and music in Nicole’s moving and breathtakingly beautiful Ode to Books. Turn the sound up. You’ll be happy that you did.

Next weekend I hope to be back with news of the ‘Christmas Book’, a new cover reveal and a special offer for a last-minute seasonal present for you to keep orChristmas gif wrapped in red sparkly paper gift.

Only a month to go before the winter solstice, and the days beginning to lengthen. This celebration, in all its forms, of the return and triumph of light, is what links us together across the globe. Wishing you every happiness in your preparations for your special day.

Holly


PS If you want to start the series:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth. First in a new cozy paranormal mystery series

Available

on

Amazon

Link to video of Book 2 Chapter 1: old village church surrounded by trees. Text: Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell

New Video – and Free Chapter

Dear Readers,

The moment has come. With Tuesday’s release of the paperback of Amanda Cadabra and the Rise of Sunken Madley, Book 4 in the series and the free days for Book 2 almost upon us, here is a new video made for you in the past few days.

The new video is just out. It is a reading of the first chapter of Book 2, Amanda Cadabra and the Cellar of Secrets by me with some clips and images to entertain you while you listen. If you prefer to read along or just read, the text of the chapter is below.

Link to video of cozy mystery Book 2 Chapter 1, from Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets: old village church surrounded by trees. Text: Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell

 

In case, you’re wondering …

What goes into making a reading video like this?

It takes days. First, you need a good quality microphone, and I use the Rode NT, which I can plug into my computer. Some people have more sophisticated setups, but this does the job. Next, you need headphones so you can hear yourself read and also pick up on any interference or background noise that you don’t want. Next, I make sure I have ‘the script’: sometimes a printout, sometimes an ebook version. It helps to sit comfortably and to position yourself the optimum distance from the mic, which is about 6 inches. I use a floor stand for this.

What about background noise?

Without studio conditions, sound echoes off any hard surface: walls, furniture, doors, technology. So I use a foam filter, the shape of half a large tube that sits behind the mic. Next, I plug in the mic and make sure that the program I use and the computer recognise that that is how the sound is going to come in. Also, I set the recording to playback  vintage gramophone playing vinyl recordthrough the laptop or desktop speakers, depending on which I’m using.

If the ‘one, two, three, four, testing, Mary had a little lamb’, and the silence in between is ‘clean’ and clear then, there is a followup step: turn off all appliances that create background noise. That’s the tech set up.

So I can just go ahead and read and record now, right? Not quite. The enemy of voiceovers is mouth clicks. Those are extra noises your tongue makes releasing contact with it’s surrounding walls, floor and roof, so to speak. You want just the right amount of moisture around. How do you achieve this? The night before I make sure I have plenty of water to drink and the next morning too. I have tea or water handy and take sips every few sentences.

What if any get through regardless? Most can be edited out, but it’s time-consuming. I usually make two or three recordings of the whole chapter so that I can cut and paste from whichever one is the ‘cleanest’.

How long does each chapter take to record?

On average, 15 minutes to read. It can take longer. If you stumble over words, misread the script, hear your mouth clicking away, or neighbour slams a door, a car revs outside, a plane makes a low flyover, a helicopter passes … you get the idea. Then you have to stop, wait if necessary and re-read the sentence or phrase.

That’s just the recording. Next comes the editing. It’s a long and painstaking process to get the very best version possible. Additionally, it might sound too nasal or tinny, and that is adjusted using the graphic equaliser that comes with the program I use. I listen through both headphones and the computer speakers to check the quality.

Now the recording of the chapter is settled. What next? I add the introductory music that plays at the end too. This time, in a first-ever, I added some sound effects to signify the scene changes.

While you listen?

Vintage camera and filmAll done now? Not yet. I think it enhances your, the reader’s, experience if you have some visuals. This means gathering stills and clips. The still photographs need to be edited so that they are video screen shape. As all of the Amanda Cadabra books involve a trip to the past, one or two may need to be turned into a black and white or sepia version. As they are prepared the video is assembled, the audio track is added, and the stills and clips are synchronised with the text. Credits are added at the end.

Now it’s ready. Time to prepare this letter to you and announce its release. Just click on the screen above to be transported to Sunken Madley, Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets. You’ll have 72 hours to download the book, free from Amazon from Tuesday to Thursday, 29th to 31st October. Both Book 2 and Book 4 will unite in a doubt cover reveal before then right here. Yes, Book 2 is getting a makeover!

Happy reading and listening,

Holly


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

Available

on

Amazon

 

Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets

 

Chapter 1

Why Amanda Found the Body

Call a doctor or search for clues? Amanda Cadabra took the few vital seconds to make the decision.

But then, she had never been impulsive.

*****

‘Mrs Cadabra, with the best will in the world from you and your husband, your granddaughter could not have had a normal childhood.’

In response, the lady seated with regal posture on the chintz sofa, inhaled, and raised an eyebrow, rendering her larger violet eye even more magnified than usual. Her piercing glare demanded an explanation. Detective Sergeant Thomas Trelawney of the Devon and Cornwall Police was not easily intimidated, as Vic ‘The Headbanger’ Hardy could have told anyone brave enough to have asked him.

However, on this, his first visit, to 26 Orchard Row, Sunken Madley, Trelawney needed to make some kind of connection with Senara, Perran, and their beloved granddaughter and adoptee Amanda. These three were, after all, the only witnesses to the day of the incident, 28 years ago, that he was here to continue investigating.

‘Here’ was a village that had grown up out of the rural landscape over a period of 800 years. It lay 13 miles to the north of the Houses of Parliament, and three miles south of the border of Hertfordshire. Herts, as the abbreviation is styled, was home to Jane Austen’s Emma and the seat of the burgeoning aircraft industry in the last century. Since those days, the county boundaries had been moved so that Sunken Madley was now, technically, on the outskirts of Greater London.

Nevertheless, Sunken Madley still was, in spirit, a country village, off the beaten track, hidden by the encircling trees. It was distinguished only by its orchard of Hormead Pearmain apples, and fine stained-glass windows, adorning the medieval church of St Ursula-without-Barnet. Of particular interest to students of the art, was the composition of the saint and the little bear with the bag of apples.

A gust of wind cast a pink handful of cherry blossom against the living room window as Trelawney’s hazel eyes returned Mrs Cadabra’s gaze politely but unwaveringly. He said mildly, ‘In other words, Amanda wouldn’t always have been able to play in the fields, run up and down the garden, maybe eat anything she wanted, like the other children here could.’

‘One couldn’t expect you to know this, Sergeant, not having any of your own,’ Mrs Cadabra pronounced with sympathetic condescension, ‘but,’ and she took a loose hairpin from her white victory roll, ‘children … adapt.’ She speared the accessory back into her coiffure to signal that the subject was closed.

Trelawney hadn’t finished. He thrived on puzzles, bringing order to chaos, and justice to the wronged. However, above these assets, his soon-to-be-retired boss, Chief Inspector Hogarth, trusted his seasoned judgment, especially of when to operate with a light touch.

He swivelled his tall, slim, grey-suited form towards Perran, who smiled kindly and said, with his gentle Cornish-flavoured voice, ‘I know what you mean, Sergeant. But Amanda was always a very special little one. Since she was a bian, a baby, she spent her fair share of nights in the local hospital when we didn’t know if she’d pull through. We did our best to help her, but in the end, she learned the hard way that her choices had consequences.’

‘Did that make Amanda fearful? Wary?’

‘Oh no, Sergeant, just careful, wise even, beyond her years. Though in others she’s young for her age. But, as Senara said, she got used to things, like carrying her inhaler, avoiding certain food, watching the pollen count. Amanda always says, ‘It isn’t terminal, after all, it’s just asthma.’

*****

It was asthma that had brought Amanda Cadabra to this moment, this room … this body.

She felt for a pulse.

*****

It had all happened a great deal sooner than anyone in the village could have expected. Even Dr Sharma, who was in the know, when she told Amanda about the new allergy clinic, had said that it was months away.

Amanda had dropped in, to collect a repeat prescription for her asthma inhaler, on her way to see about a furniture restoration job. An eager trainee from infancy, Amanda had taken over her grandfather’s business.

Asthma and furniture restoration were unlikely bedfellows, with the toxic chemicals, dust, and hard physical labour. This had niggled Trelawney from the first time he had read the case file three years ago.

Amanda’s secret levitation skills enabled her to cope covertly but ably. Trelawney, however, was a long way from even contemplating this possibility. And even if he had been able to, it would have been only with extreme scepticism and inexplicable discomfort.

Still, Amanda took sensible precautions and always had her inhaler handy. Dr Sharma was a respected and gifted physician, and between her own magic and the general practitioner’s medicine, the asthma was under reasonable control.

However, there was no denying that Amanda’s chest momentarily tightened when Neeta Sharma had told her where they were going to build an allergy research centre.

Amanda Cadabra Book 4 Release – September Surprise

Dear Readers,

Just two months after the release of the paperback version of Book 3, Amanda Cadabra and The Flawless Plan, I am delighted to announce the expected publication of the new sequel in the Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries Series, Book 4, this month. It is now in the editing stages. We will have a cover design by our talented new illustrator, Daniel Becerril Ureña, who has just completed an updated jacket for Book 1, soon to be aired on Amazon. The feedback so far has been excellent.

Over the coming days and weeks leading up to Book 4 Launch Day, you will see here, a taste of the plot, the title reveal, a partial cover reveal, a full cover reveal, the date of the free day for Book 1, the pre-release video, notification of when the book goes on pre-order and the timing of the launch itself. Members of the Amanda Cadabra Latest News Group get all of this first by personal email, so if you’d like to join them, you’d be most welcome.

Velvet ropes either side of red carpet leading to a book with sunrays coming from behind itPhase 2 of the editing process is now in progress. Phase 4 is when the manuscript is read by my supremely gifted editor, Flora, and my treasured team of VIP advance readers. If you would like to join them inside the velvet rope and receive the book before it is published, in order to give your feedback, there is still time. It is a limited numbers group, but there are some spaces. Phase 5 is the last before the manuscript is loaded onto the Amazon launch pad, ready for lift-off. The countdown has begun!

Meanwhile, during breaks from the intense process of preparing the book, I have been learning Cornish. (AnyMick Paynter Cornish speakers or students out there please, give me a wave on social media or by email. I’d love to hear from you.) It seemed only right, considering the series is so involved with that part of the world. The magical spell-language, Wicc’yeth that is used in Amanda’s world is formed from mixing Cornish and Old English, and there are several Cornish characters. In Book 4, I have the honour of including a Cornish poem kindly written for the book by Cornish Bard Mick Payter

More news to follow shortly.

Oll an gwella (All the best), and happy reading,

Holly

Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available

on

Amazon

Full Cover Reveal, and Goodies Tomorrow

Dear Readers,

Exciting times! Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of SecretsBook 2 in the Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries series, is now available on Amazon for pre-order prior to its launch on Sunday. And here for you is the full cover reveal of the Kindle edition (the full cover of the paperback is in preparation as I write). I hope to have the paperback ready for you soon after Sunday and will let you know.

Once again I wish to express my thanks to my illustrator Erik Patricio Lúa for his creation. The book has two new maps: (thanks to artist Methmeth) an expanded one of the village and an all new and especially charming one that I hope will both intrigue and assist you in your journey through the story.

Tomorrow will see the release of the trailer for Book 2, sequel to Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth, here on amandacadabra.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Goodreads and Amazon (author page).

Just three days till launch. Why the fever to release the paperback hot on the heels of the Kindle book? So I can ‘matchbook’ the two. What does this mean for you? It means that if you buy the paperback, as a gift, for example, you can get the ebook at a greatly reduced price. I want this to be ready for you for the holidays and the present buying season.

Trailer release tomorrow and news of another surprise, for Sunken Madley fans, in the pipeline.

Best wishes,

Holly

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