The Shetland Islands are the backdrop for another murder mystery by Marsali Taylor.
It’s the dark nights in the run up to Christmas, and sailing sleuth Cass Lynch’s first night on dry land is disturbed by strange noises outside her isolated cottage. Tiny footprints in the moonlit snow trail from her front door before mysteriously disappearing. Soon Cass learns others were visited by the same tiny feet in the night.
It looks like ingenious local teenagers playing tricks – but what happens when festive games turn deadly?
Cass soon finds out as a schoolboy disappears, leaving only a trail of footprints into the middle of a snowy field. She’s determined to investigate, but uncovering the truth will also put her in danger . . .
Chapter One Extract One
trow: The trows were Shetland’s “little people”, who lived in mounds in the hill, and could only come out after dark. They liked bright colours, feasting and music (there are tales of human fiddlers being kidnapped underground for a trowie wedding), and were known for working mischief about the croft; sometimes their actions were more sinister, like substitut- ing a baby of their own for a human child (Old Norse, troll)
There was the sound of children giggling, stifled quickly as if they were up to mischief; a group of trainees planning some devilment. Kitten growled and jumped down from the bed. Whoever was on watch would deal with it, I thought, hunch- ing into the bedcover, and the thought jerked me awake. I wasn’t in my cabin aboard Sørlandet but in Gavin’s cottage in Shetland. Our nearest neighbour was a mile away over the hill, and didn’t have children.
I eased my nose out from under the downie and listened. Cat stirred and sat up. Nothing; silence, that dead silence after snow had fallen. There had been the first few flakes as Gavin had driven me back from the airport, followed by a rattle of haily puckles that had covered the ground in white; a good base for snow to lie on. I tilted my head up to look out of the window. Yes, more had fallen while I’d slept. The low hill of Papa Little was blue-white in the moonlight, and the stars sparked with cold light.
I reached for my watch and pressed the button to light up the face. Half past eleven. Naturally the youngsters of the ship’s watch would be up at that hour, but I wasn’t on board ship now. All good land children were tucked up in their beds, sleeping peacefully, or illicitly playing on their computers or texting their friends. They weren’t wandering round a cottage miles from anywhere.
I was thoroughly awake now. Sørlandet had spent the last two months exploring the eastern seaboard of the States, and my body-clock was telling me it was six in the evening. I’d had a short nap to refesh me, and now I could get up and party. Beside me, Gavin was curved over on his side, back towards me, his breathing deep and even.
I slid out of bed and padded over to the window. The sliver of crescent moon had gone down, but the clear sky gave a pale light over the snowy hills and stars gleamed in the depths of the coal black water. There was no sign of move- ment anywhere, yet I had this sense of something stirring in the darkness. Kitten looked downwards from the sill, growled again, then trotted downstairs. I heard the clack of the cat flap.
Whatever it was, I supposed I’d better inspect. Maybe the ponies in the field behind the house had broken into the gar- den. I lifted up my bundle of clothes from the chair, and was tiptoeing out of the bedroom when I heard a car start up, way in the distance. I wouldn’t have heard it at all if I hadn’t been awake, if the back skylight hadn’t been open, if it hadn’t been such a still night. I reached the window just as the sound died away, and thought I saw a brief flash of headlights move across the starry sky. The silence closed in again.
I went slowly downstairs, not switching the light on. The ground shifted disconcertingly under me, as if the land had become fluid. It would take a couple of days before my balance adjusted. Freezing lino under my feet, the air icy on my skin.
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland’s scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland’s distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women’s suffrage in Shetland. She’s also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.
Creating an enticing back cover blurb is difficult enough, but when you’re trying to come up with a box set blurb for the first time, it’s even harder.
With Amazon, you want to be able to pack as much of a punch in as possible before the reader has to click on the “read more” link.
I’ve wanted to sell A Shadow in the Past and Shadows From Her Past together as a box set in ebook format for quite some time. Anyone who has seen me at various events knows I sell the paperbacks together at a reduced price. When you’re talking face to face with folks, it’s easier to convey the subject matter without going into a lot of detail and postcards and other promotional material on hand also helps.
But in the big, bad online world, you don’t have that personal touch. You’ve got to get your blurb, single title or box set right or people aren’t going to see your product … and then there are the dreaded keywords. That could be another post on its own.
This is what I’ve come up with so far for my box set blurb.
Past and present collide in the Sarah Shand time travel romance series – a dual-timeline romance set in contemporary and Victorian-era Scotland.
Book 1:When Sarah Shand plunges back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past.
When she realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?
Book 2: When Sarah Shand finds herself back in the 21st century, the people and the life she knew in the Victorian era are Shadows From Her Past.
This year, the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur on the same day. Will a trip to one of Aberdeenshire’s stone circles, located on the family farm, during this combination of events create the magic Sarah needs to return to 1886 and her family there? Or, will she remain in the present and make a life with David, himself a descendant of the man she fell in love with in the past?
A Shadow in the Past brought a unique new voice to time travel.
A charming time-slip love story with vivid description and authenticity throughout!
Shadows From Her Pastis a wonderful story of love and life, both modern and in the past.
Melanie Robertson-King has a special touch when creating her characters. The author weaves a mystery, a romance, and a family that you hope will find happiness in their lives.
I’m not completely happy with what I’ve written thus far, so I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have. Please leave your ideas in the comments.
Phase 1 of the Author Shout Reader Ready awards closed to entries at the end of October. November 15th, the announcement of the books that made it through that phase came through.
My, romantic suspense/psychological thriller, YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS, made it through to Phase 2. *queue fist pumps*
Judging in the first phase was based on the following criteria:
Section 1: Book Cover
Below is a list of the criteria we are considering in this section
FRONT COVER (eBook and Print)
I scored well in this category.
My cover is visually compelling, very well colour coordinated with good use of font, and the use of the tag line is great!
The only downside is, I still have the original cover on the print version which could be confusing to readers. At the time I changed the ebook cover, I still had a number of print copies in my inventory and wanted to wait until stocks with that cover got lower before updating the whole cover wrap.
Section 2: Book Description
Again, I scored well.
My description is clear, concise and hooked the judge right in. As well, it didn’t leave it up to the imagination what the book was about but left enough intrigue to want to read more.
It was recommended that I put my opening statement/tag line in bold. I don’t have much luck with getting html to work at amazon – hence no bold.
Section 3: Look Inside Sample
The fact I didn’t bother with a table of contents scored well. I jumped straight into the book.
The ‘look inside’ sample is free of grammatical and spelling errors, and has a nice flow/pace, making it a good read to continue.
It was suggested I have a link to my website and my other books in this area, but that could backfire and lead readers away from purchasing the book. I include my other books and a link to my website at the end of the book which isn’t available to look at in the ‘look inside’ sample.
Section 4: Overall Feedback
YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS is highly competitive in the criteria considered during this phase of the judging.
So, now it’s on to Phase 2 of the Author Shout Reader Ready Awards. I’ve already sent off the kindle version of the novel for appraisal.
Who is stalking Katherine and why?
Still reeling from the death of her husband in the London Bombings, Katherine builds a wall around her heart to prevent further hurt.
In a serendipitous moment her first love, Jared Martin walks back into her life. Old feelings are rekindled but as their second-chance-relationship develops, another cruel twist of fate strikes. The helicopter Jared is a passenger on ditches in the North Sea.
Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal? Is fate still not done its dirty deeds?
Will a reckless moment from her past come back to haunt her?
Contains adult content, violence, and strong language. 18+ recommended.