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Wednesday, 25 January 2023

LOVERS OF LLANDDWYN

In Wales, today ()25 January) is a very special day for lovers. It is the feast of St Dwynwen (in Welsh: Llanddwyn), who is regarded by many as the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine – the patron saint of lovers.  Her feast day 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 Môn) - so much so that for the past thirty 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 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 either that 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 for what happens on Llanddwyn Island in Never on Saturday, and why it is pivotal to the story, click here to find out more...

Never on Saturday is also available in French as Jamais le Samedi.  And a Large Print edition, featuring a beautiful cover image of Llanddwyn Island, has recently been released by Ulverscroft Books and should soon be available in libraries.




A MEMORABLE DAY FOR SCOTLAND

As all Scots will know, today is the birthday of Robert Burns.  And it is also publication day for Hunter's Force - the next book in Val Penny's series of Hunter Wilson detective novels set in Edinburgh. 

Read on for a taster of the new book...





October can be one of the most beautiful months in Edinburgh, and the first two weeks of the month are often warm and sunny, but this morning was chilly, but the cloudless sky and slight breeze promised a typical ‘Indian Summer’. Children back at school enjoyed the challenges the academic year has to throw at them. College and university students, who invaded the city in August and September, find their feet and take full advantage of their freedom from parental restrictions. They have enthusiasm for studying their courses, but even more interest in studying each other. 

Jamie Thomson pulled up outside HMP Edinburgh in Saughton. He had driven his pop’s favourite old Range Rover to meet him. Pop was to be released from prison, at last, and would get out this morning. He was being let out very early in the morning to avoid a rush of journalists. Ian Thomson was one of the best-known inmates in the jail, and fame always comes at a price.

Jamie leant on the car and flicked through the Facebook messages on his phone as he waited. He was glad his pop would be back to run their car showroom, Thomson’s Top Cars. Jamie and his cousin Frankie had done their best, but it would be good to have Pop back at the helm. Although goodness only knew how they were all going to fit into that three-bedroomed semi-detached house he shared with his cousin Frankie and Frankie’s twin baby daughters. With Pop out, Frankie’s brother Harry and his pal Gavin home on leave from Afghanistan, that would be seven of them squeezed in there. Jamie was sure it wasn’t going to be him sleeping in the bath!

“That’s a nice welcome, son! You with your eyes glued to that phone!”

“Pop! Good to see you. It’s great to have you out of the big house.” The men shook hands then hugged. Jamie had missed his pop.

“It is good to be free, that’s for sure. Did you remember to bring me a hat?”

“Of course. Here you go.”

“It didn’t have to be an Andy Capp style like this, boy!” Ian Thomson doffed his cap and laughed with his son. 

“I didn’t think you wanted it as a fashion statement; just something to hide you from the journalists?”

“Well, it’s certainly not a fashion statement, lad! Let’s make tracks, before the paparazzi realise they’ve been conned. Oh, and I’ll be driving, Jamie.”

“Well, seeing you’re back now, Pop,” Jamie said as he handed over the keys with a grin.

“Aye. We’ll go back to the house first and I’ll get a proper shower and change into decent clothes before we go over to the showroom.

“You’re certainly looking fit. Been working out in the gym inside, have you?” 

“Not much else to do, really. But I have got a surprise for you. I did a wee deal inside, and we’ve got two new betting shops to add to our business empire.”

“Betting shops? You mean you’re a bookie now, Pop? That’s mental! Whereabouts are they?” 

“One in Frederick Street, one in Lothian Road.”

“Wow! That’s brilliant. Fine and central. They’ll make good money.”

“Aye, they do.”

“So, you kept that very quiet. Who’s been minding them?” Jamie asked excitedly.

“Arjun Mansoor’s wife,” Ian said.

“What the fuck? You’ve got back into bed with old Argy Bargy. You’re mad, Pop!” 

“No, I’m not. With him and his brother-in-law inside his wife needed a job, and she’s damn good at keeping the books straight.”

“Well, I think you’re insane. That old bastard Mansoor did your business over before, and I bet you’ll find his wife’s just as bad. But it’s up to you.”

“Yes, it is up to me. Now let’s not fall out already, son. I know what faults the Mansoors have, but the wife doesn’t ask any questions. Better the devil you know and all that, and, while Arjun Mansoor is still in the big house, he has nothing to do with this.”

"You better hope not, Pop," Jamie said as he shook his head knowingly.



MORE ABOUT VAL:


Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. 

 

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd. 

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat. 



MORE ABOUT HUNTER'S FORCE:

Hunter by name - Hunter by nature.

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son.  Cameron's flatmate was murdered.  Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city?

Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation due to the reorganisation of police services.  Hunter's ability to be involved, however, is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him.  He goes missing, and his team have no idea where to look for him.  Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks?

Meanwhile, Hunter's team must work closely with the MIT and, with or without him, solve the murder in this taut crime thriller.

To get your copy of Hunter's Force, click here.

Friday, 6 January 2023

HAPPY NEW YEAR - HAPPY NEW READING

 

Greetings, one and all!  A very Happy New Year to you all.

Christmas might already seem like a distant memory, but here is something to make it last a little longer.  Today is Twelfth Night, otherwise known as Epiphany - the day when, according to tradition, the Wise Men from the East arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for the Christ-child.  

Here at Ocelot Press I'm afraid our budget doesn't stretch to Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, but we can offer you something else: a fantastic deal on our publications.  For this weekend only, you can stock up on our Kindle titles for just 99p each (or the equivalent in your local currency).   

Ocelot Press is where history meets mystery meets romance.  All our bargain titles can be found on Amazon.  Click on the image above to be taken our website, or go to Amazon and search for the books individually.  You can also link to my own Ocelot titles (The Ghostly Father, Nice Girls Don't, Finding Nina, The Unkindest Cut of All, Never on Saturday and its French edition Jamais le Samedi) by clicking on the book covers on the right. ----->

Here are the genres you can find:





Happy reading!


Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Review: THE CONTRABAND KILLINGS by Lucienne Boyce


London and North Wales, 1799

Principal Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is sent to collect smuggler Watcyn Jones from Beaumaris Gaol on Anglesey, and bring him back to London for trial at the Old Bailey. As if having to travel to the wilds of North Wales isn’t bad enough, Dan is saddled with an inexperienced constable as his interpreter and assistant. At least it’s a routine assignment and shouldn’t take more than a few days. 

But when the prison escort is ambushed and Watcyn Jones escapes, a straightforward transfer turns into a desperate manhunt. And as Jones’s enemies start to die, the chase becomes more urgent than ever. Dan’s search for the killer brings him up against a ruthless smuggling gang – and his chances of getting off the island alive begin to look far from promising.

 

Purchase Links 

US - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BFRRSD72

UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BFRRSD72

  

As a frequent visitor to the Isle of Anglesey and the area around Beaumaris, I was particularly keen to read this novel.  It did not disappoint.  The characters are very well drawn, and the setting and the era really come to life on the page.  The author has clearly done her research meticulously – both about the practice of smuggling and about the history of Beaumaris.  And the plot is a real page-turner; I stayed up well past my normal bedtime to finish the book and was genuinely sorry when I reached the last page.  

 

Although this is the fourth book in a series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.  Having said that, I’m now keen to read the earlier books to find out more about the characters’ intriguing backstories.



MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land (2012, reissued 2021), an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.

Her second historical novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (2015, reissued 2022) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016, and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block (2017, reissued 2022), was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction (2019, reissued 2022), is also an IndieBrag Medallion honoree, recipient of Chill With a Book Premium Readers’ Award, and a joint Discovering Diamonds book of the month. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was published by S-Books. The Fatal Coin is now available in paperback.

The Bristol Suffragettes, a history of the suffragette campaign in Bristol and the South West of England, was published in 2013. In 2017 Lucienne published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign

 

Other Publications

Not So Militant Browne in Suffrage Stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth (Stevenage Museum, 2019)

Victoria Lidiard in The Women Who Built Bristol, Jane Duffus (Tangent Books, 2018)

Tramgirls, Tommies and the Vote in Bristol and the First World War: The Great Reading Adventure 2014 (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership/Bristol Festival of Ideas, 2014)

 

Social Media

Website: www.lucienneboyce.com

Blog: https://francesca-scriblerus.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @LucienneWrite

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LucienneBoyceWriter/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6437832.Lucienne_Boyce




 

Huge thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.  Do check out the other posts – details are on the banner above.

Monday, 5 December 2022

COVER REVEAL: THE VENICE SECRET by Anita Chapman

I'm delighted to be part of the cover reveal event today for the lovely Anita Chapman's debut novel: The Venice Secret.

One hidden painting.  Two women born centuries apart.  A secret uncovered.

in 2019, Rachel is stuck in a rut when she discovers what appears to be a Canaletto painting in her grandmother's loft, along with a note addressed to Philippa in 1782.  With help from Jake at the local art gallery, Rachel endeavours to find out if the painting is an original - and uncovers a secret from the past.

In 1780, governess at Chipford Hall, Philippa is offered the role of mistress by Earl Rupert.  She escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking Lady Cordelia, who reveals a secret that changes both their lives.  They do their best to keep the secret from Lady Cordelia's social circle, but their nemesis is determined to reveal all - and ruin them.

The Venice Secret will be published on 7 March 2023, but is already available for pre-order by clicking here.

And now - drum roll please - here is the cover!


Anita Chapman enjoyed writing stories from a young age, and won a local writing competition when she was nine years old.  Encouraged by this, she typed up a series of stories about a mouse on her mum's typewriter and sent them to Ladybird.  She received a polite rejection letter, her first.  

Many of Anita’s summers growing up were spent with her family driving to Italy, and she went on to study French and Italian at university. As part of her degree, Anita lived in Siena for several months where she studied and au paired, and she spent a lot of time travelling around Italy in her twenties. 

Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. Her first published novel, The Venice Secret, is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child. 

Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books. She’s run several courses in London and York, and has worked as a tutor at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College.



Social Media Links – 

Website https://neetsmarketing.com/

Twitter: @neetschapman https://twitter.com/neetschapman

Facebook Page: Anita Chapman Author https://www.facebook.com/neetschapman

Instagram: @neetschapman https://www.instagram.com/neetschapman

Tik Tok: @neetschapman https://www.tiktok.com/@neetschapman


Huge thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the chance to take part in this event.



Wednesday, 30 November 2022

PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS - an interview with Val Penny

Today my blog guest is my friend and fellow-author Val Penny, who is here to chat about life, books, and anything else that springs to mind. The new edition of Val's novel Hunter's Revenge is released today.

Welcome back to Broad Thoughts, Val. 


Thank you for inviting me to your blog today, Sue. It is always lovely to have a chance to chat with you.

 

For the benefit of those who are new to your books, please can you tell us a little about yourself?

 

I have been writing and telling stories all my life. When I was a child, I used to make up stories for my little sister after our Mum put the light out and told us to go to sleep. 

Much later in life, I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television got very old very fast, so I turned to reading, but even that lost its lustre after a while. My husband jokingly suggested that I write a book – and here we are!

Your books have a wonderfully diverse cast of characters.  What gave you the inspiration for them?

 

Some of my characters are based on people I have come across in real life, but most of them are figments of my rather over-active imagination. I created each of them considering what I wanted them to portray and the gaps in stories that I wanted them to fill. Not every character appears in each book; however, many of them are recurring characters.

 

Do you have a favourite character?

 

Many of my readers are in love with Hunter or his DC Tim Myerscough, but my favourite character is Jamie Thomson. He is the most unsuccessful villain but has a good heart. Even when he attempts a housebreaking or a theft, it is with providing for his family in mind.

 

How important is setting in your novels?

 

The DI Hunter Wilson Thrillers are set in Edinburgh. This was a fundamental decision because so many people have visited it and it is a beautiful place. It is also small by city standards which makes it easy for my characters to navigate and plausible that they will know each other. Edinburgh is almost as important a character as Hunter Wilson.

 



To what extent are your plots influenced by the setting?

 

Edinburgh is a vibrant multicultural city so my plots could as easily be set in any similar city in the world, but I know Edinburgh well, and know how its people think and react. To that extent the setting does influence the stories.


 

What are you working on at the moment?

 

My new publishers, SpellBound Books, are publishing new editions of my back catalogue, which is an exciting diversion for me. This gives me lots of time to work on the next book in the DI Hunter Wilson Thrillers, Hunter’s Force, which will be published early in 2023, and the next book in the series of Jane Renwick Thrillers, A Fighting Chance.

 

 

Finally:  Is there a question that you wish I’d asked…?


You write a blog and keep a social media presence, as well as writing books. From an author’s perspective, how does this benefit both you and your readers?

 

… and how would you answer it?

 

I like to keep in touch with my readers and to hear from them through my website  (www.valpenny.com), my blog, and on social media. It is always lovely to keep in touch.



MORE ABOUT VAL:


Val Penny has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University.  She has had many jobs, including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer, but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.  Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, non-fiction and novels.


Val is an American author living in SW Scotland.  She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud, and lives with her husband and their cat.






MORE ABOUT HUNTER WILSON:


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature.


Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is a loyal friend and a fair leader.  He is called to the scene of a murder in Edinburgh where the corpse has been fatally shot.  He is dismayed to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold.  Hunter must investigate Reinhold's murky past in Germany to identify George's killer.


At the same time, Hunter is tasked with looking into a previously-undetected criminal gang supplying drugs from Peru.  There seems to be no connection between the murder and the drug supply, until Hunter unexpectedly secures help from inmates of the local jail.


Hunter's investigations are hampered by distracted members of his team and unobservant witnesses.


Reinbold was not the quiet old man Hunter believed him to be, and his killer bore their grudge for a lifetime.


To order your copy of Hunter's Revenge, click here.

 


Friday, 25 November 2022

REVIEW: THE NO-HOPERS' CHRISTMAS CLUB by Geraldine Ryan


In the run-up to Christmas, we’re often far too busy to sit down and read a full-length novel (tempting though it might be). But a collection of festive short stories, one or two of which can be read as time permits, is ideal for a few minutes of self-indulgent relaxation amidst the chaos.

Each of the eighteen stories in this anthology has Christmas or New Year at its heart, but all are touchingly different in content - and all are uplifting and thought-provoking at the same time. The anthology can be enjoyed by anyone, of any age, who needs a feel-good Christmas treat. Highly recommended.


MORE ABOUT THE BOOK:

As warming as a mince pie and a glass of sherry, these eighteen festive-themed shorts are just waiting to be unwrapped. 

- A lonely dog shelter volunteer battles to find new homes for her long-time canine residents while realising her own future is just as uncertain. As the new year approaches, can a fellow animal lover give her the fresh start she so wants for her dogs?

- A widowed grandmother prepares to reunite with her forbidden first love, only to discover the grand country pile from where he’s sent her a Christmas card isn’t quite what it seems.

- A single woman finally meets a man to couple up with over the festive season, but will the eccentric mistress of her late father destroy her plans?

- An ambitious 20-something attends a lavish Christmas party with only one aim – to bag a rich husband. But her plans are derailed when a troubling connection with the aristocrat she’s set her sights on is revealed.

Geraldine Ryan is a prolific short-story writer whose work has appeared in Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast magazines. This yuletide collection follows hot on the heels of her first published anthology Riding Pillion with George Clooney. While Christmas comes but once a year, these moving and humorous tales will stay with you for a lifetime.


Purchase Links: 

UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Hopers-Christmas-Club-Geraldine-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0BMJST5H8/

US - https://www.amazon.com/No-Hopers-Christmas-Club-Geraldine-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0BMJST5H8/


MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Geraldine Ryan is a proud Northerner who has spent most of her life in Cambridge – the one with the punts. She holds a degree in Scandinavian Studies, but these days only puts it to use when identifying which language is being spoken among the characters of whatever Scandi drama is currently showing on TV. For many years, she worked as a teacher of English and of English as a second or foreign language, in combination with rearing her four children, all of whom are now grown-up, responsible citizens. Her first published story appeared in My Weekly in 1993. Since then, her stories have appeared in Take a Break, Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly, as well as in women’s magazines abroad. She has also written two young adult novels – Model Behaviour (published by Scholastic) and The Lies and Loves of Finn (Channel 4 Books.) She plans for Riding Pillion with George Clooney to be the first of several short story anthologies. 

Keep up to date with Geraldine’s news, be the first to hear about her new releases and read exclusive content by signing up to her monthly newsletter Turning the Page. By adding your details, you’ll also receive a free short story. Use this link to subscribe: https://bit.ly/Turningthepage   

Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/GeraldineRyan

https://www.facebook.com/geraldineryanwriter

Huge thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.  Do check out the other posts - details are on the banner above.