Saturday, 15 April 2017

PSST - EASTER TREAT: ANYONE WANT A FREE E-BOOK?

The great Crooked Cat Easter Sale is now on.  It runs until midnight on Easter Monday (17 April).




Until then, you can get hold of the Kindle editions of my first three novels (The Ghostly FatherNice Girls Don't and The Unkindest Cut of All) for just 99p/99c each.

And until midnight on Monday, the Kindle edition of my fourth novel, Never on Saturday, is available to download ABSOLUTELY FREE!

That's four - yes, four - great reads for less than the price of a cup of arty-farty coffee, and considerably less than the price of an arty-farty Easter egg.  And they will last considerably longer and contain no calories.

Interested?  Just click on the book covers on the right to be taken to the Amazon Kindle store.

There are dozens more books at 99p/99c, or completely free, in the Crooked Cat sale.  Click here to find out more.


Friday, 3 March 2017

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! - a guest post by Ailsa Abraham

Once again, I'm joined by my soul sister and fellow-scribe, the fabulous Ailsa Abraham, whose latest novel Attention to Death is released a week from now.





Welcome, dear friend!

Thank you, Sue, for inviting me to talk about my latest release.  This is a departure from my previous series in magical realism. Here I take off on murder mystery. 

Why? Erm... Limited attention span? Love of variety?

Attention to Death is released on 10th March.  It's available for pre-order now: http://mybook.to/AttentionDeath

"In Attention to Death, Ailsa Abraham pulls off something I wouldn't have thought possible - a steamy romance with a twist of murder and a splash of social conscience. A remarkable book that will have you turning pages as quickly as you can to find out what happens next." 
(India Drummond, author of the Caledonia Fae series)


Finding a murderer among a group of killers is not going to be easy for two Royal Army Military Police investigators, Captain Angus Simpson and Staff-Sergeant Rafael ‘Raff’ Landen, whose Christmas leave is cancelled for an investigation into a suspicious death on a base in Germany. 
The case is further complicated by unhelpful senior officers who make pre-judgements on colour, creed, race and sexuality. Yet the insight of the investigators helps them uncover a sinister plot, although they too have something to hide: their own fledgling relationship.
Will Angus and Raff be able to solve the murder without giving away their secret?
The best and worst of human nature is represented in this story, which is why it is suggested for over 18s only.

To research this book, I delved into my past life as an officer in the Royal Air Force and my lifelong friendships with gay men.  Coming right after LGBT History Month in February, it highlights the problems faced by men who have to be “in the closet”, and the sort of bigotry that causes people to refuse to read a book just because there are gay characters in it (although this doesn't stop them leaving reviews). Me? I've never been too sure. I'm gender-neutral. which is why the first thing I wonder on meeting new people is not “What do they do in  their bedrooms?”

Read it for yourself and decide. Is it an honest portrayal of two men doing their job who just happen to have started an affair?

Ailsa Abraham  is the author of six novels. Alchemy is the prequel to Shaman's Drum, published by Crooked Cat in January 2014. Both are best-sellers in their genres on Amazon. She also writes mystery romance.
She has lived in France since 1990 and is now a naturalised Frenchwoman. She enjoys knitting and crochet, and until recently was the oldest Hell's Angel in town . Her interests include campaigning for animal rights, experimenting with different genres of writing and trips back to the UK to visit friends and family.  She is also addicted to dressing up, saying that she is old enough to know better but too wise to care (pirate gear is her favourite!)



Wednesday, 1 February 2017

WORTHY OF ATTENTION - an interview with Ailsa Abraham

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming back my dear friend and fellow-author Ailsa Abraham, whose latest novel Attention to Death - her first venture into crime fiction - is due out next month.



Welcome, Ailsa.  This is your third novel for Crooked Cat, but you’ve completely changed genres this time around. Why?

This may sound weird (I often do) but as I live my life as the Village Healer and shaman, I wanted a change of scene. Writing my Alchemy series was too close to my real life. I don't watch much TV but when I do gore and guesswork is my favourite.


Was it difficult to switch genres like this? Did you get any help with the research for this one, or did you do it all yourself?

Not really, because I cheated and delved back into my past, when I was in the Royal Air Force. My partner served in the Royal Navy for over twenty years. We still tend to use “mob-speak” to each other, and that includes a great deal of swearing. I did, however, have to do a lot of research as I based my novel in the Army (Military Police). I think this was done to stop either of us claiming that it was MY book. I had to Google a lot of geography and asked for advice from friends still in the military.


How is this different from what you’ve done in the past?

All my life, I've been writing in all sorts of genres. Yes, in my published work I am known for short stories and magical realism but I've tried my hand at everything apart from chick-lit, mainly because I don't consider myself a “chick”.  Much of my “other” work is only known to my friends because they were my audience in the past. I've even been known to dabble in poetry but I wouldn't dream of publishing it apart from as humour on Facebook.


Without giving away any spoilers, I know that Attention to Death deals with some pretty controversial themes.  What made you want to write about them, and how challenging did you find it?

It's fair to say that it is not a book for the faint-hearted. There are some gory scenes and some very un-PC language, as would be normal on a military base. The real message behind the murder mystery is about judgemental people. The case is very nearly ruined by those who are prejudiced about race, colour, creed or sexuality, who make sweeping assumptions and won't consider other solutions. Homosexuality is featured very strongly, because I have had gay friends all my life and they still suffer from outdated and untrue stereotyping.


Is there a message in Attention to Death?

Yes, there is; it’s forgiveness and tolerance – even though these are sometimes the hardest virtues to practice.


I’ve already had a sneak peek at this book, and it’s a corker.  What did you enjoy most about writing it?

As someone who is non-gender specific I found writing as a man rather good. I enjoyed going back to my own military days when I was accepted as “just another bloke”, being able to write in that style made a change.


Where can readers find out more?

The book is released on 10 March 2017, but is now available for pre-order.  Click here to be taken directly to your local Amazon site.  Meanwhile, here’s a hint of what’s in store:

Finding a murderer among a group of killers is not going to be easy for two Royal Army Military Police investigators, Captain Angus Simpson and Staff-Sergeant Rafael 'Raff' Landen, whose Christmas leave is cancelled for an investigation into a suspicious death on a base in Germany. 

The case is further complicated by unhelpful senior officers who make pre-judgements on colour, creed, race and sexuality.  Yet the insight of the investigators helps them uncover a sinister plot, although they too have something to hide: their own fledgling relationship.

Will Angus and Raff be able to solve the murder without giving away their secret?

The best and worst of human nature is represented in this story, which is why it is suggested for over-18s only.


Thank you, Ailsa, for a fascinating chat about a fascinating book!

MORE ABOUT AILSA:

Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, including serving in the Royal Air Force, and Veterinary Nursing, ending with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is now a French citizen. Her passions are animal welfare and motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding.

She copes with illness with her usual wry humour: “Well if I didn't have all those, I'd have to work for a living, instead of being an author, which is much more fun.” Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and writing. She currently works in pagan magical realism and detective fiction, although would like to explore other genres too. 











Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A DAY FOR LOVERS - THE FEAST OF ST DWYNWEN


Today is a very special day for lovers in Wales.  It is the feast of St Dwynwen (Llanddwyn in Welsh), who is regarded by many as the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine – the patron saint of lovers.  Today (25 January) is her feast day, and is often celebrated by the Welsh with flowers and cards.

I’ve always loved the Isle of Anglesey (or, to give it its Welsh name, Ynys Mon) - so much so that for the past twenty-odd years it has been my second home.

As well as boasting a rugged natural beauty, Anglesey is also steeped in history and folklore.  So when I was looking for a setting for my forthcoming novel Never on Saturday, Anglesey was the obvious choice.

Never on Saturday is a paranormal time-slip romance novella, set partly in medieval France and partly in present-day North Wales.  And one of the key scenes in the novel takes place at one of Anglesey’s most picturesque locations: Llanddwyn Island.




Llanddwyn Island (in Welsh: Ynys Llanddwyn) is a remote rocky promontory, about a mile long, situated at the south-west corner of Anglesey, and forms part of the Newborough Warren nature reserve.   It is not, strictly speaking, an island, although if the tide is exceptionally high, as can be seen in this photo, it can become one for a few hours: 





According to tradition, the original Dwynwen was a fifth-century Welsh princess, one of the daughters of Brychan, a prince of Brecon.  She fell in love with a young chieftain named Maelon, but rejected his advances.  The reasons for this vary according to which version of the story you read, but the popular belief is that either Maelon tried to seduce Dwynwen before they were married, or that Dwynwen’s father had plans for her to marry someone else.  But whatever the reason, the outcome was the same: Dwynwen prayed to be released from her doomed love affair.





In answer to her prayer Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who instructed her to concoct a potion which would dispel all thoughts of love.  One source tells that the potion was made from rare herbs from Newborough Forest, mixed with a lover’s tears and beads of dew from the petals of the snapdragon.  She and her lover both drank the potion, at which point Dwynwen immediately forgot her love for Maelon.  Maelon, unfortunately, fared rather worse: he was transformed into a block of ice.

The angel appeared to Dwynwen again and granted her three wishes.  Dwynwen’s first wish was that Maelon should be restored to life.  Her second wish was that she herself should never again wish to marry, and her third wish was that all faithful lovers should find true happiness.  She then retreated to what is now Llanddwyn Island and spent the rest of her life in isolation.




Meanwhile, Maelon was restored to life in accordance with Dwynwen’s wish, and the spot where the block of ice had stood, according to tradition, became a spring of clear water.  This spring became St Dwynwen’s Well, and it soon became a popular place of pilgrimage for lovers.  It was said that a woman could test the fidelity of her lover by scattering breadcrumbs on the water then laying her handkerchief on the surface.  If the handkerchief was disturbed by one of the eels living in the well, this foretold that the lover would be faithful.




The place of pilgrimage was so popular that during Tudor times it became the richest in the area, and in the early sixteenth century a church was built on the site of Dwynwen’s original chapel.  Sadly, the church fell victim to the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, but its remains can still be seen today.




As to what happens on Llanddwyn Island in Never on Saturday, and why it is pivotal to the story, all will be revealed on 9 February 2017.  Click here to find out more...