Category Archives: Writing

A Halloween Tale

In keeping with the spooky atmosphere of the evening, I give you one of my short stories. The cemetery I based this story around is located just west of my hometown.

I chose the particular headstone because it’s set off by itself on a bit of a hill surrounded by trees.

I hope you enjoy this seasonal story.

A Halloween Tale

by

Melanie Robertson-King

Brian and Emily climbed off their bicycles outside a large three-storey, red brick house in the west end of the city. A huge sign bearing a griffin and the words Bed and Breakfast hung from a post in the front yard. “Is this the place, Em?” he asked.

“I think so,” she replied, sliding her heavy rucksack off. She dug into its small outside pocket and pulled out the confirmation e-mail. Scanning it, she looked at the house and sign. “Yes. We’re here.”

Emily slung her pack over one shoulder. They walked their bikes to the side of the house and leaned them against the wall before going to the front door. Just as Emily reached out to ring the bell, the inside door opened. Startled, she jumped back.

“You must be Brian and Emily. I’ve been expecting you,” the grey-haired, bespectacled woman said, craning her neck to see past them. “How did you get here? I don’t see a car.”

“Bicycles,” Brian answered.

“Come in, you must be exhausted. Your room is this way.”

Holding hands, the young couple followed the proprietor to their room.

“Here you are,” she said, opening the door. “I serve breakfast from seven to nine o’clock. You’re on your own for lunches and suppers but there are a number of places to get a good meal further along into town.”

“Thank you, Mrs. … ” Brian began.

“Griffin. Miriam Griffin.”

Meanwhile, Emily had walked to the window and was looking out at the street below. “We passed a couple of cemeteries just west of here,” she commented, turning to face Brian and their hostess. “What can you tell us about them?”

The woman’s face suddenly went pale. “Y-you don’t want to be going to the cemetery on the south side of the road,” she stammered. “Rumour has it, it’s haunted.”

“We do. I think my ancestors are buried there and that’s why we came. We’re doing a bit of genealogical research and want to take some rubbings of the family stones and photograph them for the book we’re writing.”

“If you think you must go there, go early in the day so that you’re away from there well before dark.”

Emily dropped onto the bed and ran her hand over the white duvet. “Tell us more. This sounds intriguing.”

“Well, it was 200 years ago this Halloween that young Emily McPherson disappeared. My, but your name is Emily, too, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Please go on.”

Brian sat down on the bed and put his arm around Emily’s shoulders.

“The story goes that a young girl lost her fiancé – a soldier – in a tragic accident in the early part of the war of 1812. His ship was carrying a load of explosives and it blew up. Everyone on board was killed.”

“What does that have to do with the cemetery?” Emily prodded.

“Well, they say she visited his grave every day until she disappeared and was there as always when a terrible storm blew up and folks never saw hide nor hair of her again. But before she vanished, a blood curdling scream was heard over the thunder – and then nothing. Just silence. The storm cleared as quickly as it had formed and Emily was gone. Alarmed by the terrible scream that came from the direction of the cemetery, some men sprang into action. When they reached the grave where the poor, bereft young woman spent most of her time, she was gone. No sign of a struggle. No sign that she had been dragged off – just the bluish glow that surrounded the headstone. From that night on, no one had ever set foot in that corner of the cemetery. You see why it’s imperative that you’re out of there before dark.”

“What a tragic, yet romantic story. We must find that grave, Brian,” Emily said, her eyes sparkling.

“We will but tomorrow after breakfast. Today, we scope out the town.” Brian stood and helped Emily up from the bed. “Thank you for sharing that, Mrs. Griffin. Em, here, well she’s a sucker for a cemetery and a love story,” he said squeezing her shoulders.

***

Out on the street, Emily wrapped her arms around Brian’s waist. “I wish we didn’t have to wait until tomorrow.”

“Come on, Em. If anything untoward is going to happen in that cemetery, it will be tomorrow on the actual anniversary. Not today.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she muttered.

Brian took her hand and they walked towards the town’s centre, stopping first at the local museum where the genealogical society’s archives were housed.

Emily scanned the floor to ceiling shelves lined with books, binders, maps and the society’s own publications. If the McPherson girl’s disappearance were such a big deal, then there had to be something written about it. She found a binder of newspaper clippings dating back to the beginning of 1812, sat down at one of the tables and flipped through it. Emily found the article about the explosion and couldn’t believe how much detail had been included on the crews’ injuries. Still, she took the page from the binder and made a photocopy. A few pages later, she found the other piece including a photo of the alleged haunted grave. halloweenWhile she looked through newspaper clippings, Brian busied himself with the old maps. When Emily photocopied the second article, two older women came down the stairs. They spoke in hushed tones about the anniversary of the McPherson girl’s disappearance.
Having the information she wanted, Emily and Brian left the museum and went to a nearby pub for a late lunch. Over a pint and burger, they shared their findings.

“According to the one article, Emily got engaged on June 1st and her fiancé was killed on June 2nd,” she said, taking a sip of beer.

The longer they stayed in the pub, the more uncomfortable Emily became. She felt as if she were being compared to the long-since missing girl. “Let’s get out of here,” she said, “these people are creeping me out.”

“If you want,” Brian replied, picking up his pint and draining the last of it.

After leaving the pub, they wandered in and out of some of the more eclectic stores on the main street. In a second-hand shop, Emily bought a cherry amber pendant. While she fastened the clasp, another young couple entered the shop, talking about the cemetery. They say that grave is haunted. Emily overheard. Yeah, I know. Even in the daylight people don’t go near it.

When Brian and Emily returned to the Bed and Breakfast, she emptied the contents of her rucksack onto the bed ensuring she had everything she needed for the next day. Camera, extra batteries, blank newsprint, and charcoal sticks in a baggie. She added the photocopies to the essentials and repacked her bag.

***

At breakfast the following morning, Mrs. Griffin begged them to reconsider visiting the cemetery. “It’s just all of the talk about how the poor girl vanished and this being the 200th anniversary,” she moaned, wringing her hands.

“We’re leaving as soon as we’re finished breakfast so will be back long before it gets dark,” Brian reassured her. “If it makes you feel better, we’ll stop here before we go to supper.”
Emily slipped on her leather riding gloves and heaved her rucksack onto her back. “Don’t worry. We’ll be back late this afternoon.” Pausing by the front door, Emily turned back. “Bye, Mrs Griffin. We’ll see you later,” she called cheerily as they exited.

It took about five minutes to reach the cemetery’s entrance. After dismounting, they walked their bikes along the narrow road and parked them against a tree near the river. Emily took her camera out and shot a few wide angle shots of the area for comparison later on.
Since they hadn’t gotten away from the Bed and Breakfast as early as they would have liked, Emily decided they should split up in order to cover twice as much territory. She gave Brian some of the sheets of newsprint and a couple of the charcoal crayons. He had a small point and shoot camera so could photograph the stones as well as take rubbings.

A row of white stones, beginning with two substantial ones followed by smaller ones caught Emily’s eye and she walked to them. It appeared to be an entire family – parents, and their ten children. She carefully photographed each one planning on looking into the family at a later date. Emily glanced over her shoulder and saw that Brian had worked his way out to an older section near the highway.

Walking along the narrow road, Emily spotted a flight of stone steps leading to an area sheltered by trees. As she climbed them, she noticed a small headstone next to a bathtub-like sarcophagus. Then she looked up onto the rock about four feet higher than the ground where she stood. A solitary monument occupied the space. Emily pulled the newspaper articles out of her rucksack. This headstone matched the one in the photocopy. The thick canopy of oak, pine, and maple trees kept the area in darkness even at his time of day. A gust of wind rustled through the tree tops overhead and a leaf fluttered to the ground, landing on the carpet of brightly coloured autumn leaves. What was once a stately oak tree stood guard over the site; its trunk and remaining branch denuded of bark and pocked with woodpecker holes.

HalloweenUp close, the headstone didn’t look menacing. Emily walked around it, feeling its roughness under her fingertips, and read the inscription which told the sad tale of a young man who lost his life tragically in a ship’s explosion. She photographed the inscription.

“Brian, come quick,” Emily yelled. She turned and waved her arms to get his attention. “I think I’ve found the haunted monument!”

He looked up and waved back but made no attempt to approach.

When he didn’t respond a second time to her calls, she scampered off the rock, pausing to take more photos then ran to him, stumbling over the uneven ground. Breathless when she reached Brian, Emily found it difficult to tell him she had found the headstone of the young soldier.

“You’ll remember where it was, Em? I’d like to get some rubbings of the stones in this section. Let me finish up here and we’ll head over,” Brian answered. He pulled Emily close and kissed her forehead.

Another stone with a worn but interesting inscription soon held their interest and they became engrossed in it – Emily with her camera and Brian with the newsprint and charcoal. They were so preoccupied that they didn’t notice the skies darkening.

HalloweenNot wanting to leave without a final visit to the haunted grave, Emily ran off towards it, Brian following close behind. It was dusk when they reached the location. As they drew nearer, the hairs on the back of Emily’s neck stood on end.

Suddenly, the sky turned pitch black. Not even the glow of the city’s streetlights could be seen. Emily couldn’t see Brian, yet they were only arms length apart. A brilliant flash of lightning and a simultaneous, deafening clap of thunder frightened Emily and she screamed. The pungent smell of ozone filled the air. The headstone now bathed in that ominous bluish glow, made her entire body tingle.

***

The next day, once it was realized they had failed to come back to the Bed and Breakfast the night before, a search party went to the cemetery to look for them. Just as it was when Emily McPherson disappeared all those years ago, there were no signs of a struggle, no signs of the young couple at all. But at the base of the stone, one of the searchers found a pendant – the same one the young woman was last seen wearing when she and her partner left for the cemetery. On the back was an inscription which read, ‘to my Emily June 1st, 1812. All my love BW’. The searchers looked at each other incredulously, then at the headstone. BW – Brian Wolfe. Were these two young people the ghosts of Emily and Brian?

Happy Halloween!halloween

The Hemingway Editor

Tools for Writers – The Hemingway Editor

I discovered the Hemingway Editor app through a blog post on Triberr the other day so thought I would try it out. I copied and pasted some text from one of the pieces I’m working on and clicked ‘edit’.

hemingway

Using different colours, it tells you sentences that are hard to read, very hard to read, simpler alternatives and not seen on the screen shot above, adverbs and uses of passive voice (highlighted in blue and green).

The online app is free to use, but you can also purchase a copy which will reside on your computer for $9.99 US for those occasions you want to edit but have no Internet access.

So, what do I think of it? Well, I’ve tried it and in some ways, I think it stifles my writing voice by suggesting shortening my sentences or splitting them into two. But on the other hand, finding instances of passive voice are extremely (egads an adverb) useful.

Why not give the free app a try? You’ve got nothing to lose… FREE is good.

I’d be interested to hear what your impressions are. Let me know in the comments.

It’s Tell a Story Day

It’s “Tell A Story Day”!

Well, in Scotland and England it is. And since my heart belongs to Scotland, and I have family and friends in both countries, need I say more?

Okay, so in keeping with the day, here’s my story…

tell a story

Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Now isn’t that a great story? I think so, but then I’m biased.

~~~~~~~~~~

You can buy A Shadow from the Past in print or ebook from:

4RV Publishing
amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Novels too long for your liking? How about a collection of short stories then?

read a book dayBlurb:

The Consequences Collection is an eclectic compilation of twelve stories ranging from non-fiction through creative non-fiction to pure fiction, in prose and poetry.

The story of a Scottish Home Child is based on fact and told from the child’s point of view; The Mystery Woman of Kinettles is a non-fiction article on the appearance and subsequent disappearance of a woman’s body near the Wellington County House of Industry (Poor House) in 1879 Southwestern Ontario.

Some of these stories are lighter than others, and some might even beg you to leave the lights on.

Where to buy The Consequences Collection:

Paperback:

Lulu.com

Epub:

Lulu.com

Kindle:

amazon.com

And for the younger folks who love a good story, how about one for Christmas?

tmc5_72dpi

Blurb:

For Tim Frost, Christmas 2011 is a washout. No Santa. No presents. Nothing. His father lost his job when the mill closed and now the family is on the verge of losing their home.

A chance encounter with Nick Kringle, a modern-day Santa Claus, teaches Tim that the greatest gift you can receive is the gift of giving.

Tim’s Magic Christmas is available in paperback from the author, or for the kindle at amazon.com.

You can follow me here at Celtic Connexions or at:

Website: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-Robertson-King/221018701298979
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing https://twitter.com/RobertsoKing
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6543072.Melanie_Robertson_King

 

A Jersey Dreamboat by Georgina Troy ~ BOOK PROMO

Georgina Troy

A Jersey Dreamboat

by

Georgina Troy

 

Georgina Troy

The third instalment of the captivating Jersey Scene series. Izzy and her best friend Jess are badly let down when a Jersey socialite, who has agreed to hire their entire vintage party stock for her upcoming wedding, decides to elope instead – leaving the girls with no bookings and no money. Feeling despondent, the girls try a night out to cheer themselves up, and meet the captivating and aristocratic Ed, who invites the girls on a cruise to Nice on his yacht, together with his two brothers. Romance builds on the luxury trip, but when a last-minute wedding booking is offered, the girls must return to Jersey, and real life has to begin again …or has it?

 

Buy Links

AMAZON UK

AMAZON.COM

ACCENT PRESS

ABOUT GEORGINA TROY

Georgina Troy

Georgina Troy lives on the island of Jersey and when it’s dark she can see the lights in France from her bedroom window. This isn’t surprising as Jersey is only fifteen miles off the French coast. She’s an impossible romantic and likes nothing more than creating gorgeous heroes. Her books are published by Accent Press.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeorginaTroy

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/GeorginaTroyAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Georgina+Troy

Blog: http://georginatroy.blogspot.com/

GIVEAWAY

AMAZON GIFT VOUCHER – £20 / $25

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Georgina Troy

Author Interview with Mystery Maven, Maggie Wheeler

Welcome Mystery Maven, Maggie Wheeler

I’m pleased to welcome local author, Maggie Wheeler to Celtic Connexions! Sit down, make yourself comfortable and we’ll get started.  I’ve got water here on the side table so if you feel the need, say the word. I know I tend to get dry when I do a lot of talking so I assume you do, too.

For the benefit of those who don’t know you, could you share a bit about yourself (50 or so words) before we get started?

It’s always hard for writers to write about themselves! I’m a native of Central Ontario but Eastern Ontario has been my home for most of my life. I have three wonderful daughters and a beagle named Bagel. I currently call Brockville, the River City, my home on the St. Lawrence River.

How long have you been writing?

Personally, my whole life. Professionally, about 20 years including 15 with mystery fiction.

What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?

An early love of reading translated into a childhood dream of being a writer. I loved Composition in public school, and was always dreaming up stories of my own. The first book materialized when I was running a corporate communications business in the 1990s. I had everything I needed in my home office to work on the book and had been thinking of doing it for years. I was and am a great fan of mystery fiction, so I started work on a mystery novel of my own.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?

Plot. Absolutely. With mystery fiction, I’m a traditionalist—weaned on the likes of Christie, Sayers and Conan Doyle. The mystery is the point, so I begin with what I call my plot formula: X + Y = Z. This person kills this person for this reason. Once I have that, everything else must work to support it and help the reader figure it out—or take them on a wild goose chase, legitimately, of course!

Names are important. How did you decide on your characters’ names?

Many of the names in my first novel A Violent End come from my family. For example, Farran’s father’s name (Hal Leonard) is a composite of my father’s and paternal grandfather’s first names (Harold and Leonard). Others I have taken from books on hand in my personal library.

How long did it take you to write your first novel?

About 2½ years. I did research around the needs of my young family and my business for two years. When I finally sat down to write out the story, it took three months for the first draft.

Did it require lots of research and did you have difficulty finding the information you needed?

Yes, I did a lot of research. The story was going to showcase a painful time in my community’s history so I had to get it right. I started with interviews with people from the Lost Villages, followed by book research and lots of time on the Cornwall Public Library microfilm with the back issues of the Cornwall Standard Freeholder. The Lost Villages Historical Society was also very helpful. It wasn’t difficult more than time-consuming. It had been 40 years at that point since the completion of the Seaway construction, and people seemed ready to talk about it.

There are currently four books in the Farran MacKenzie Lost Villages Mysteries series. Will there be more?

Yes. This fall, I am beginning Book Five in the series that will bring back all the regular characters and also work in the amazing history of the British Home Children through Farran’s family tree.

Any humorous moments/incidents during your research you can share? (I’m thinking of the one you mentioned at Writer’s Ink when you went to the police detachment talking murder)

There were many memorable moments for me over the years, especially doing the research for the first book. You learn as you go! Two that come to mind involve the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Upper Canada Village.

One afternoon, my ex-husband was going to be home so I left the children with him and scooted off to Long Sault, to the OPP detachment that Jerry Strauss works out of in the books. I had a police procedural scene in the second chapter concerning where the body is found. I felt more comfortable than average with the Long Sault detachment as that was where my father had worked years before. With no advance call, I walked into the OPP station and asked to see an officer for information about homicide procedure. Still don’t know why they didn’t arrest me…A young constable took me to the interrogation room and tried to interrogate me/answer my questions. After a few unproductive minutes, a sergeant came to the door and escorted me down the main hall to another room where I asked all the same questions to the sergeant and another officer. Finally, it dawned on me that perhaps I looked suspicious. I took out a newspaper clipping with the announcement of my project and told them I was harmless, just an author. The sergeant smiled and said he was running my licence plates through the system as we spoke and would shortly find out just how harmless I really was! At that point, I was grateful for having a police officer for a father, because he’s made me toe the line growing up and my record was clean! I got to go home!

Another time at Upper Canada Village, I was “casing” the saw mill where the first murder in the present day takes place. Eventually, all the other tourists were gone and the village interpreter came up to see if I needed help or if he could answer any questions. Standing beside the great gears churning in the water, I asked him this: If you were standing here with someone and threw them into the gears to kill them, would it stop the gears? I can still see the look on his face…but he answered (after moving away a bit) and said what is in the book. “The river runs it. You’d have to stop the river.” I’m sure they still talk about that in the staff room, under most amazing questions asked!

Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. It’s been wonderful hosting you here today. I do have one final question for you though.

What book are you reading now?

A Shadow in the Past…have you heard of it??

Maggie’s Books

A Violent End

mystery mavenFollowing the death of her mother, university history professor Farran Mackenzie begins searching for her parents’ past in the Lost Villages of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Her arrival surprises the old-timers, and stirs up memories amongst the former villagers, many of whom were already rattled by the recent reappearance of Farran’s father ─ from beneath the waters of the St. Lawrence where his body had unknowingly lain since the flooding, forty years before. Then, when a friend of her parents dies in a suspicious accident soon after her arrival, Farran is forced to put her research skills to new use, before her father’s murderer finds her.

The Brother of Sleep

mystery mavenFarran Mackenzie couldn’t have been more surprised when Alison Perry walked into her University of Waterloo office. It had been thirty years since she had last seen her best friend in high school, and thirty years since her best friend’s father, a police officer, had been killed in the line of duty. And now Alison was asking for help in discovering who had really killed her father.

Farran has doubts about helping her long-lost friend. A lifetime has passed since Alison walked out of her life with no explanation but doubt fades when a car bomb results in the death of Sergeant Perry’s old partner, nearly killing Alison and Farran, as well. Someone obviously doesn’t want them to dig up old skeletons, so Farran takes them to the only place she feels save ─ the St. Lawrence Seaway. But the past keeps catching up with them there, too. A fated meeting in the local cemetery with Paul Vaughn, a police officer from Newfoundland, has Farran revisiting the origins of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a journey that turned her own life upside down only a year ago, and threatens to do so again. She feels a strange attraction to Paul, whose life seems to mirror her own, but what about Jerry Strauss, the OPP inspector to whom she owes so much? Too many police officers in her life, both past and present, and too many coincidences. Farran’s heart if playing havoc with her instincts, which could prove dangerous, if not deadly. Whom can she trust? And is the truth worth the price of knowing?

All Mortall Things

mystery mavenInspector Jerry Strauss does not believe in ghosts.

As commander of the Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry detachment for the Ontario Provincial Police, he deals with facts, not fancies. But he and Sterling House, now a B&B in Ingleside, have a long history, going back to his childhood when the house was a private home in the Lost Villages of Wales. As a boy, things weren’t quite so black and white, and both the home and the village had an unearthly air that last summer before the flooding of the St. Lawrence Seaway caused the house to be moved and the village to disappear forever. Death came to the house then, and now death has returned, nearly fifty years later. Jerry Strauss soon discovers he’s connected to both. If she were there, Farran Mackenzie would tell him to listed to the house. Inspector Strauss isn’t sure he wants to hear what it has to say.

On a Darkling Plain

mystery mavenSo much for a summer of light emotional entertainment. In the month marking fifty years since the inundation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the remains of a young man gone missing during the Project days surface near Old Iroquois and stir up a hornet’s nest on both sides of the river. While dodging a cold-blooded killer, her approaching fiftieth birthday, and emotional commitment to Inspector Jerry Strauss, Farran Mackenzie faces reconnecting with the daughter she gave up twenty-six years before ─ and the dark secret that drove them apart in the first place.

Paperback versions of these books can be bought directly from the author at maggiewheeler.com.

E-books will be available soon.

About Maggie Wheeler

mystery maven

As author and historian, Maggie Wheeler has spent over a decade showcasing the social, cultural and psychological impact of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project on Canadians affected. She is the author of the regionally best-selling “Lost Villages” historical murder mysteries, which have garnered a nomination for the Ontario Premier’s Awards for the Arts, an Ontario Provincial Hansard, and the “people’s choice” Seeker’s Award for Literary Artist of the Year 2013. The series has been used to teach English and history from intermediate to post-secondary levels in Eastern Ontario and Upper State New York. Since 2001, her work with the Seaway history has kept Maggie on the public speaking circuit and in the media at local, regional, national and academic levels. Her most recent contribution is the “Lost Villages” article for Historica Canada’s The Canadian Encyclopedia—the official national online resource for all things Canadiana.

Find out more at www.maggiewheeler.com.

TEXT to SPEECH Software – which one is right for you?

As writers, it’s been drilled into us to read our work out loud so that we catch our errors – something that doesn’t happen when we read silently.

If your masterpiece of prose is an magnum opus, then you know by the time you get through it, you’ll have no voice left, not to mention having a sore throat.

So, what’s the next best thing? How about Text to Speech software? Let it read your work back to you. Don’t want to disturb others in the house while your computer does the reading? Plug in a set of headphones or ear buds.

There are a number of packages out there that do this.

Dragon Naturally Speaking by Nuance is available for the PC and the Mac. The price varies depending on the features you want. The Home version regularly retails through the website for $99.99 but is currently on sale for $74.99. The Premium version, normally $199.99, is reduced to $149.99.

Text Aloud is available as a free download or you can purchase it and receive it by email. If you want additional voices for this software, you have to buy them. The voices that come with it, can become monotonous after while (this comes from their site). Also, there’s no mention if this is PC only or if there is a version for the Mac.

Another free text to speech program is Word Talk. It only works with Microsoft Word but it covers versions of the software from Word 97 through to Word 2013. This one is on my radar because it was developed in Scotland.

I use Natural Reader Free (not sure of the version). On their site, you can copy and paste a sample of your text into a box and hear it read back to you. Version 12 of Natural Reader Free has a number of options that make it even more seamless. Rather than have to copy and paste text from your document, it integrates add-in tool bars to Microsoft Office. Version 13 (Windows or Mac) is now available for download.

text to speechIf you hit the play icon, the software will read the welcome message to you. New will let you open a new blank screen that you can copy and paste your ‘magnum opus’ or at least a chapter in. There is a floppy disk icon on the right hand side of the screen which will allow you to save your file so it will be in the software until you decide it’s time to delete it. Unfortunately, the ability to convert to MP3 format isn’t available in the Free version of the program. To be able to do that, you have to upgrade. Prices range from $69.50 to $199.50. You can see what you get in the paid versions on their Price & Order page.

Beware when downloading free software of any kind, whether it be text to speech or anything else.

What text to speech software do you use?

 

BOOK TITLES ~ Finding the right one

Do you struggle with finding the “right” title for your writing – whether it’s a short story, novel, poetry or even a blog post?

Do you have to have your title before you begin to write?

How many times do you change your title before you’re finally happy with it?

The title for my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past, came from a sentence in the book.

book titlesThe cover was designed around that. It works, don’t you think?

I thought I would use the same concept to come up with a title for the second book in the series and in keeping with the time-travel element, came up with Shadows From Her Past.

Don’t get all excited. Book two isn’t out yet. Book two isn’t anywhere near being ready. Book two doesn’t have a synopsis or back cover blurb yet (and that’s a whole other story – and yes, it will also require a title).

So finding a title can be an arduous task but I’ve looked around online and found these three sites that might be of help to you. There are more, but these were in the top of the google search results.

tarasparlingwrites.com/book-title-generators/

fantasynamegenerators.com/book-title-generator

kitt.net/random-book-title-generator

I’d love to hear how you deal with this conundrum. Drop me a line in the comments sharing how you find the “right” title for your work.

 

SUMMER MOVED ON by Joanna Lambert plus Guest Post

summer

SUMMER MOVED ON

BY JOANNA LAMBERT

 

summer

After a long-buried secret tears her family apart, Jess Hayden moves to the South Devon village of Lynbrook to live with her uncle.   Rufus owns the village pub, The Black Bull, and having visited before, Jess knows the villagers well…especially one of them.

Talún Hansen has a reputation, making him the kind of man no decent girl should get involved with. Jess, however, has been under his spell from the moment they first met. Although they always seem to bring out the worst in each other, there is no denying the attraction that simmers between them – an attraction Jess knows she needs to keep under control after repeated warnings from her uncle.

As she settles into village life she begins to learn more about this wild, dark-haired gypsy with the compelling eyes, and realises their lives hold many similarities. Despite her uncle’s warnings, she begins to spend time with him. For Jess, the coming summer holds passion; for Talún the hope that he has at last found someone who truly cares for him.

But as autumn approaches, a dark shadow from Jess’s past returns, bringing far-reaching and unwanted changes for both of them.

AMAZON.CO.UK

AMAZON.COM

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HEROES AND VILLAINS

Once you’ve worked out how you’re going to kick start your latest WIP the next important thing is to look at your cast in more detail: to put flesh on bones, give them personalities and a background. I usually create a bio for each character central to my story, giving them a real identity –physical features, education, and a personal history – so I’m able to write as if I actually know them.

As significant as all these details are, however, it’s what the individual will come to represent in the book that is as important. One of the central characters in many romance novels is the antagonist – the villain. This is the person who, for whatever reason, causes trouble and puts obstacles in the way of our two would-be lovers. If he/she weren’t around then life would be plain sailing and the story would be over before it had a chance to begin.

I’m a prolific reader as well as a writer with romance definitely one of my favourite categories. It’s a fairly broad genre which can cover many different aspects of relationships. It can be light-hearted or serious and the settings for the stories can be historical, futuristic or contemporary. For me, however, romance is only one side of the coin. I also enjoy exploring relationships and how peoples’ actions can impact on others and change things, either for good or bad. My books are therefore a blend of romance and drama and because of this I find the villain a very powerful character. They drive the conflict, keeping the reader constantly turning the page to find out what happens next.

In my trilogy – When Tomorrow Comes, Love Lies and Promises and The Ghost of You and Metrouble came in the form of central character Ella’s mother Melissa (Mel). She was glamorous, vain and totally self-absorbed. She made Ella’s life an absolute misery, constantly interfering in her love life in her search for the ‘right kind’ of husband for her daughter. None of this was for Ella’s benefit, of course, it was all about promoting Mel’s social ambitions.

Book four – Between Today and Yesterday – caught up with the same characters in the late 1980s. This time, Marcie Maguire, a famous American diva and someone from Ella’s husband Matt’s past returned. She was looking for revenge after losing him to Ella many years before. By the fifth and last book of the series – The Other Side of Morning – Matt and Ella had settled down to a peaceful life together and it was the turn of the next generation. This story focussed on their niece Charlotte. In love with handsome Italian restaurateur Marco D’Alessandro, she fell foul of his stepmother Thérèse who had plans to marry her stepson off to a young Chianti heiress in order to expand the family’s business empire.

In my latest book – Summer Moved On we meet Lily, the newest female to take on the role of the woman everyone loves to hate. She is twenty years old; much younger than her three contemporaries in my other books, but just as destructive. Her character was influenced by a novel I read back in 1998 called ‘Concerning Lily’ by Sally Brampton. In it, we are introduced to Lily Clifton, a young woman who manages to cause irreparable damage to the lives of three couples who befriend her. The Lily in Summer Moved On has a lot of similarities to her namesake. She lacks a conscience and is totally focussed on taking what she wants and causing trouble, especially for the main character, Jess.

Of course, we haven’t seen the last of Lily because I’ve a sequel to write. Watercolours in the Rain will see her back again as we take up the story six years after the first book ends. What sort of problems will she be causing? Well, that’s still very much under wraps at the moment. All I can say is her behaviour will be as controversial as it has been in Summer Moved On! Watch this space…

About Joanna Lambert

 

summer

Jo Lambert was born and brought up in rural Wiltshire in a small village on the edge of Salisbury Plain. She has spent most of her working life in Senior PA or Admin Management roles both in the private and public sectors. Her love of reading soon spilled over into writing and her first novel When Tomorrow Comes was published in 2009. Four other books – Love, Lies and Promises, The Ghost of You and Me, Between Today and Yesterday and The Other Side of Morning followed. They formed a series following the lives and loves of four Somerset families.

Jo lives on the eastern side of the Georgian city of Bath with her husband, one small grey feline called Mollie and a forty eight year old white MG Midget called Bridget. She loves travel, red wine, rock music and cooking for friends.

Summer Moved On, her sixth novel, is the first part of a two book love story set in South Devon.

email: taurusgirl185@gmail.com

googleplus: google.com/+JoLambert

twitter: @jolambertwriter

website:  http://jolambertbooks.com

blog:  http://jolambertwriter.wordpress.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jo-Lambert-Author-Page/288274811277692?fref=ts

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GIVEAWAY

2 E-COPIES OF THE BOOK

THE GIVEAWAY IS OPEN INTERNATIONALLY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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summer

RECKONING TIDE a new novel from Anneli Purchase

FREE!

reckoning

If you have not read The Wind Weeps, grab your free digital copy now on amazon or on smashwords. Follow it up with the conclusion to Andrea’s story in Reckoning Tide. Here is a sample of the beginning of Reckoning Tide.

You’re mine!
To have,
To hold,
No matter how hard.

You’re mine!
Give me honour,
Obey,
And do as you’re told.

You’re mine!
In sickness,
My sickness,
Comes hell.

You’re mine!
This day forward,
Til death,
Do us part.

reckoning

Chapter 1

“Nurse!” I screamed. “Nurse, come back!” Robert’s smile vanished. He advanced and tossed the three orchids onto the foot of my bed.

I twisted around grasping for the cord with the call button. “Get away from me!” I hit the button frantically.

Robert lunged at me. “No, Andrea. Don’t!” He ripped the cord away from me. I pulled my fist back to punch him, but he was quick and caught my wrist in an iron grip. His eyes narrowed into slits.

“Nurse!” I yelled again. He clamped a hand over my mouth. Flashbacks of what that hard hand had done to me went through my mind. I bit down on his fingers, my terror lending me extra strength.

“Arrrgh! You bitch!” Robert’s eyes grew wide. He stared at me with a glassy look that I remembered too well. He drew his arm across his chest to backhand me, but dropped it when the nurse appeared.

“What’s going on here?” the nurse demanded. Margaret was a hefty woman. She filled most of the doorway as she stood with her hands on her hips. “Sir! Come away from the bed.”

“She bit me!” he said, unable to keep the whine out of his voice. “I brought her flowers—orchids, her favourite kind—and she bit me!”

I gasped at his outrageous boldfaced ploy, twisting the truth. “He tried to kill me. Don’t let him near me. He’s the one I told you about.”

“Now, Andrea.” Robert’s voice, silky smooth, sent ripples of terror up my spine. “You know that’s not true.” He turned to the nurse and slowly shook his head. “I’m her husband. You see, she’s had quite a shock. We had an argument and she set fire to our cabin and ran away when she thought I had died in the fire. I guess she’s surprised to see that I’m still alive.”

The nerve of him! I tried to get out of bed. “No! No-no-no!” I had to get the nurse to believe me. “He’s twisting it all around. He tried to kill me.”

The nurse was quick to put her hand out. “Stay in bed, Andrea.” She looked flustered and tried to calm us both. But no wonder she was confused. The whole situation was so bizarre. She looked from Robert to me and back to Robert again.

Would she side with Robert?

“Sir,” she said, “would you mind going to the waiting room down the hall? I’m sure the RCMP would like to speak with you, too. They’ll be here soon to interview Andrea.”

Robert raised his chin and gave me a smirk. “That was fast,” he said. “We’ll soon get to the bottom of the situation then.”

The nurse escorted him out the door. “We called them this morning when she woke up,” I heard her say as they walked down the hall.

The nurse had explained to me earlier that the police have to make a report in cases where there has been violence, especially since a gun was found in my fanny pack. The gun I pointed at him last week. Should have pulled the damn trigger.

*****

You will find paperback and digital versions of Reckoning Tide on amazon outlets and on smashwords.com (for e-readers other than Kindle). Just click on the links:

Amazon.com

Smashwords.com

For more about Anneli Purchase and her books, visit her at http://anneli-purchase.com/

Fifteen minutes of fame…

Quite literally, it was fifteen minutes. That’s how long each of the authors who took part in Magic Spells had to read from their books.

The event was to take place outdoors, but the organizers had the foresight to have an alternate venue lined up in the event of inclement weather. It poured at times on Sunday. Other times a light mist but definitely not conducive to being outside.

The afternoon started out with some humour, followed by some of the actors from the local Shakespeare festival, a smidgeon of crime followed by me.

I was asked if I was nervous getting up and speaking in front of a crowd. Not in the slightest. Shhh… don’t tell anyone but I rather enjoy it. Well, at least when it comes to talking about Scotland, my writing and reading from my work.

fifteen
fifteen

I was followed by an intermission when people could buy books signed by the authors before things got back down to business. Before the event, the Friends of the Library sold 50-50 tickets and my husband won $57.50 from that.

The afternoon concluded with some historical folk music, poetry readings and mystery.

I enjoyed myself and should the Friends of the Prescott Library hold an event like this again, I’ll be there… that is, if they’ll have me back. Hope so.