Summer sale – Vote for Murder just 99p

My new book has been plotted, written and is now under going a rigorous edit.  Set in the 1890’s in an East Anglian village, it combines fact and fiction with a large dose of mystery and a generous sprinkling of genealogy.  This illustration gives a teaser of the back theme.

TFW (working title) will be published later on this year.  In the meantime, the kindle version of Vote for Murder is on sale in the UK at just 99p.  Suffragettes, secrets and sleuthing – what’s not to like…

Download Vote For Murder Amazon Kindle here

 

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Overstrand in the Great War

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This new book, published by Poppyland Publishing with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Overstrand Parish Council, tells the story of all the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Overstrand and Suffield Park who died in the First World War. It also gives accounts of those who returned to the village after the conflict.

With 208 pages & colour throughout, ‘Overstrand in the Great War’ provides a fitting tribute to the young – and sometimes not so young – men and women of Overstrand and Suffield Park from a century ago.  General the Lord Dannatt kindly contributes a foreword and puts their sacrifice and service into the context of the continuing commitment required of our armed services.

Author – Tim Bennett

Military Research – Martin Dennis

An Autumn Freebie…

Autumn has landed with a vengeance in my little corner of Gloucestershire.  In true Hygge fashion, I’m snuggled on the couch covered with a wool blanket, sipping a hot drink and letting the smell of cappuccino truffle waft around the room from a burning candle. The research for my next novel is almost finished; just the small matter of writing it now. Set once again in Victorian England, the new book mixes true crime and historical fiction in the blended genre of faction. Or rather it will once I’ve removed myself from the comfort of the sofa and away from cosy distractions.

In the meantime, Vote for Murder is currently free on Amazon Kindle until Wednesday 21st September. Click this link for your copy.

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A Writer’s Life – My Almost Summer Holiday

IMG_0376I’m not a full time writer. Like many others, I have a day job; to be completely accurate, I have two. So holiday time is valuable and self, husband, son and aged border terrier were looking forward to a fortnight off in the splendid scenery of Northumberland.

My husband has a thing about castles. Something to do with his love of Bernard Cornwell novels, I think. He was desperate to visit the Holy Island and couldn’t wait to get inside a castle or two. It was going to be a fabulous week with plenty of time to develop the plot for my next novel. Even my son was resigned to the lack of Wi-Fi and happy to be reading and writing instead.

Saturday dawned and we set off for Northumberland via Kendall, arriving in Beautiful Belford late Saturday afternoon. We duly unpacked, scoped out the local area and found a very nice hotel which served mini bottles of prosecco; all seemed right with the world.

Sadly, there was a lot less of the world by Sunday, according to my husband’s left eye. We decided to drive up the coast to the historic town of Berwick on Tweed and spent a pleasant morning meandering around the ruins. As we drove further north to the Scottish town of Eyemouth, hubby began to complain about his vision. It felt like there was a contact lens stuck in his eye, he said, and his vision was a little blurry. He inspected the eye in the mirror, saw nothing to concern himself and decided to sleep on it hoping it would improve by morning. So we went back to our holiday let, cooked a meal & settled down for the evening.

By the next morning, my husband’s left eye was behaving very badly indeed. He could only see a small semi-circle of light and was sufficiently concerned to visit the local chemist and ask for directions to the nearest optician. There were two within a 15-mile radius, so he chose Specsavers in Berwick. It turned out to be a wise choice. They were extremely accommodating, took his problem seriously and rearranged their diary so he could attend that morning. So off we trekked to Berwick again, hubby in attendance at Specsavers while my son and I walked the dog around the ruins for the second time in 24 hours.

Long story short, hubby was diagnosed with a detached retina and macular. He returned to the car, ashen, clutching a referral note to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary for that afternoon. Despite the diagnosis, he insisted on driving as he doesn’t like me driving his car and I don’t like it much either as it doesn’t have a real handbrake. Two hours later the four of us were at the top of a multi-storey at the hospital. Son and dog remained in the car while hubby and I booked him into the eye clinic where there was a 2 hour wait. I spent the next 2 hours flitting between husband, son and dog and taking son and dog to find a car charger as all the phones were getting low and we had no idea whether husband would be admitted or not.

In the end, it was not. The operation was urgent and could have been carried out at Newcastle but with the follow up care, it was deemed better to return to Cheltenham and have the operation there. This came as something of a relief as all I could think about during the wait was how on earth I was going to get his car down nine car parking ramps when I couldn’t use the brake. It was clearly on his mind too as he point-blank refused to let me try.

Going back to Cheltenham was a no-brainer. The operation was urgent and we decided to drive through the night and take his referral letter to Cheltenham General hospital first thing the next day. And when I say we, I mean me. Husband finally, and reluctantly, agreed I should drive as the eye drops were disturbing his remaining vision and he knew he wouldn’t be able to see when it got dark.

It’s fair to say that Hubby does not make a good passenger. Having driven straight back to Belford, packed and departed, I might have been concerned about staying awake, were it not for the fact that he shouted at me almost the entire way home. The conversations, of which there were many, went along these lines.

Him – “You should get into the left lane here.”

Me – “But the satnav says stay in the middle lane.”

Him – “No, the sign says go left.”

Me – “The satnav definitely wants me to stay in this lane.”

Him – “GO LEFT NOW!”

Me – “We’re on the wrong road.”

Him – “Well don’t listen to me. You know I can’t see properly!

And so on, ad nauseam, all the way home.

Fortunately, we arrived home in one piece, slept for a few hours and reported to the hospital the next day. The staff at Cheltenham General were fantastic, took it all very seriously and he was operated on the following day. Three weeks later and things are going well. He can already see colours and shapes and his vision improves daily.

On the minus side, we only spent two days in Northumberland of which one of those was taken up dealing with medical matters. The closest we got to a castle was driving past glorious Bamburgh Castle & we were compelled to cancel our boat trip to the Holy Island (they would have taken the dog too). But it’s a small price to pay to ensure the restoration of hubby’s sight and we appreciate how lucky he was to be seen by such professional medical staff in Berwick, Newcastle & Cheltenham. We will return to Northumberland again one day and the trip to Holy Island will take place before anything else!

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My writing life – In search of tranquillity

Front of houseTwo years ago we became the proud owners of a brand new home where my writing desk now dwells. We hadn’t intended to buy a new home but fate stepped in and gave us a shove in that direction. We had been searching for the perfect home for several years. Living in or near the countryside with a good-sized garden for our four plump and well-loved chickens was a pre-requisite. Then the two elder chickens, sleek black rock Doris & fat little bluebell Lulu, died within months of each other. Much as we missed them, we were still the proud owners of two flighty Leg bars and though not nearly as friendly, they were still our girls and worthy of a good home. Then one night, the fox came. Fox 2: Chickens 0. We were left with an empty hen house, a few random feathers & no necessity for land.

Buying a new home just sort of happened. We obtained a part-exchange valuation purely for interest, viewed a few show homes and before we knew it we had paid a deposit and instructed a solicitor. A date was set, some conveyancing hurdles were overcome and we moved in during a rainstorm in June 2014. Then it got complicated.

Our house is lovely – really bright and light for a new home and a little haven of writing happiness. But like all new homes, there was a lengthy snagging list and the builders accidentally forget to install the fitted wardrobe in the master bedroom and tiled the bathroom brown when we had chosen grey. They pushed hard for us to sign off the snagging list despite the fact that much of the frontage had not been finished but we stood firm, refusing to sign for something on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. Good thing too as it took months to resolve.

The builders were pretty well-behaved in the intervening months. They fitted a temporary wardrobe and several months later they completed the real one, albeit on a slant. They returned several times and finally straightened it, sorted out most of the snagging and we, in turn, agreed to ignore the fact that all our towels were steel grey, settling for the brown bathroom with good grace.

Then a year later it started. We purchased the house on the strength of the green in front which was never to be built upon and would ultimately be a public green area. The site office, the concrete towers and all the building resources beside the green had long outstayed their original two removal dates. They were supposed to disappear about six months after we moved in, but despite numerous promises, there they remained; and with the added aggravation of concrete towers being topped up on a regular basis. Having run out of space and with no intention of opening their other tract of land, the builders suddenly plonked a contractor’s car park in front of our house. Every morning at 7.20 sharp hordes of traffic pulled up, causing noise, disturbance and a nasty bottleneck at the top of the road. We had been promised a lovely green space and had been left with no possibility of living in quiet enjoyment of our property. Lulu

The world can be a cruel place and the car park issue is small potatoes compared to the problems some people face who don’t even have a place to call home. But sometimes it’s hard to see the wider picture and we became caught up in the injustice of the situation and the attitude of the builders who practically laughed in our faces when we complained. So we decided to stop moaning and start acting. We took the usual channels of writing, phoning and involving the local council who were supportive but slow to act. When this didn’t work, the residents of our road took half a dozen cars down to the sales suite with photographs of the newly created car park interspersed with photocopies of the promised green area taped to the inside of the windows. There was a delicious irony in parking in their own reserved spaces given that it was getting so difficult to park in our own. It took four days of bad publicity for the builders to change their minds. The car park was removed, the site office disguised and works on the green area began. Hurrah for people power.

Now two years on the cars have gone (except for a recent blip swiftly resolved), and the green area is now yellow, covered top to toe with rape seed. OK, it’s not the flat green area we were promised, it’s a meadow; and all the more beautiful for being wild and out of control. The top half of the site office where the contractor’s played golf across the fields has been removed, the silos have gone and some of the roads have even been paved. I write at my dressing table at the front of the house overlooking the yellow against the distant hill. It’s not perfect but it inspires me.

A writer’s life – The pros and cons of a broken wrist

I painted the kitchen this weekend – well seven eighths of it to be exact.  My task was rudely interrupted by the failure of my footstool to stay intact.  After twenty year’s loyal service, it split in two while I was cutting in around the carefully masked cooker hood.  I shattered my wrist while the ceiling received a liberal stroke of ‘white with a hint of bamboo’ as I fell.  On reflection, I came off worst.

Determined to make the best of it, I compiled a list of pro’s and con’s.  For every downside, there must be a balancing upside.

I can’t type.  What’s the point of a one handed touch typist? Woman up.  You can type one handed.  Lucky you not to have broken your right hand.
Much worse, I can’t go to the gym Walk the dog then.  And while you’re about it, consider the deficiencies in your latest plot line.
I’ll get fat! Good point.  No chocolate or biscuits for you until the cast’s off.  Make that dog walk a mile longer.
But my wrist’s smashed up.  I might need an operation. Then you can use that experience in your writing.  No event is ever wasted!
Fine – but I’ll have to go into hospital (inconvenient) and the cast will be on even longer (not known for my patience). Refer back to the previous answer.
Whatever.  But I can’t drive for six to eight weeks?  That’s a threat to my monthly book club and the new ALLI writer’s meet I hoped to join. Big deal.  Suddenly too good to ride the bus, are we?
It hurts. I’ll give you that one.  No pain without gain, they say.
On the plus side, I’ll have more time for reading, writing and research if I’ve got nothing better to do. Now you’re talking.  You’ve got a ‘Writing’ magazine upstairs with the plastic wrapper on.  Time must be at a premium.

And so the internal dialogue rumbles on.  Yes, it’s a nuisance, but sometimes when you are trying to squeeze too much in, life takes control and bites back. I’ll have less time for the physical things.  DIY must take a backseat and I don’t suppose I’ll swing a kettlebell for a while – but it’s given me an unexpected six weeks to catch up with a spot of reading and time to research my new murder mystery. A wrist with a twist, you might say.

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