Tag Archives: Scotland

Unravelling ~ a gripping tale of dark secrets, lies and murder

#UNRAVELING

a gripping tale

Celtic Connexions is happy to welcome Helen Forbes, author of Unravelling ~ a gripping tale of dark secrets, lies and murder.
gripping tale
And just look at that cover! If that doesn’t draw you into this gripping tale, then perhaps the blurb will.
gripping tale

Blurb

Incarcerated in the gloom of a Highland asylum, 

a young mother finds illicit love. And death.

Kate Sharp’s family is a mystery. Her mother, Ellen, disappeared into the shadows of Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital when Kate was a child. When her grandmother dies, Kate is desperate for answers. What were the circumstances of her mother’s life and death? Who is her father?

Kate’s not the only one trying to uncover the truth. The remains of two bodies with murderous injuries have been found buried in the forest next to the former hospital.

And someone else is searching for answers, and he will stop at nothing to find them.

As the tale of Ellen’s tragic unravelling unfolds, the secrets that led to her death are exposed, along with the shocking truth about Kate’s father.

Unaware of the danger stalking her, Kate continues her search. 

Will she find the answers? And can she save her own life?

Excerpt

Go, a voice cried in my head. Run. Before it’s too late. A little overdramatic? Not really. Who wouldn’t run from a seven-hour shift of spooning mushed-up food into gaping, toothless mouths, wiping backsides, and mopping up body fluids? But I didn’t have a choice. Not without another job, and I lacked the energy or motivation to find something else. Pushing open the front door, I caught the scent of tangerine and lemon. Mrs Shelby had been at the homemade air fresheners again. It made for a pleasant welcome to the foyer of the care home, but a few essential oils couldn’t cover up the natural scents of warm cabbage, bed sores and incontinence. Not that it was a bad care home. A large Victorian villa with high ceilings and big rooms, clean and well-managed, it was one of the better ones. There were just some scents that couldn’t be shifted. And some residents.
I heard Smyth before I saw him, his entitled plummy tones and the squeak of his wheelchair grating through me. Scarcely a shift passed that I didn’t fantasise about smothering him with a pillow, but that would be far too kind. He needed to be strung up and eviscerated.
‘Pole, you come here right now.’
Stefan was at the reception desk. He ignored Smyth and smiled at me. Deep in my belly, something primitive tugged and taunted. It was another good reason for running, but I’d left it far too late.
‘Pole!’ Flecks of spittle shot from Smyth’s mouth. His face was twisted with venom. There were bulging veins on his forehead, a crimson flush creeping up his wrinkled neck. I willed Stefan to pull the old man from his wheelchair and throw him on the floor.
He didn’t. Of course, he didn’t. He held out his hands. ‘Mr Smyth. What may I do for you?’
Smyth’s eyes narrowed. ‘What is your name?’
‘Stefan Nowak.’
‘Why are you here? Aren’t there care homes in your own
country?’
Stefan nodded. ‘There are, Mr Smyth. Remember, we
talk yesterday and I tell you all about them. The story of my grandmother and the tattoo?’
‘Yesterday?’ The old man’s eyes shifted between us. ‘A tattoo? Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve never seen you before in my life. I couldn’t believe it when Matron said you came from Poland to work here.’
Stefan’s smile didn’t falter. ‘I did, Mr Smyth, with others.’ ‘There are others? My God. Matron, get me out of here.’
As Smyth’s frantic hands wheeled his chair down the corridor,
I apologised to Stefan, and not for the first time. He waved his hand. ‘Kate, it is not your fault. There are many head-dicks.’
‘Dickheads.’
He laughed. ‘Ah, yes. I will learn.’
‘What’s this about your grandmother and a tattoo?’
‘My grandmother is… was… in a care home in Warsaw. My
young wild sister – you know, I tell you about her punky hair and purple lips – she take my grandmother out one day and she comes back with a little black cat on her ankle. There is… what do you say? Hell to pay. My father, he doesn’t speak to my sister again. Yesterday, Smyth, he almost die laughing when I tell him this.’
‘Almost died?’ I shook my head. ‘Stefan, you have to try harder next time.’
He laughed. ‘Today, he remember nothing. His head, it is full of holes.’
‘Full of shite.’

‘This too.’ Stefan smiled. ‘Forget him. He is just an old man. Tomorrow he will be my…’ He frowned and fished his notebook out of his pocket. He thumbed through the pages of scribbled vocabulary. ‘Ah, he will be my beastie.’
I couldn’t keep my laughter in. Stefan looked devastated. ‘This is not right?’
‘Let me see.’ I looked at his notebook. ‘I think you mean bestie, though you’re not too far wrong with beastie.’
‘Whatevers.’ His hand rested on my arm. ‘You are tired, Kate. How is she?’
I would have told him. I might have cried, and he might have held me, but our conversation was severed by the shrill voice of Mrs Shelby, a cloud of stale perfume, the crackle of starched polyester, and then the woman herself. She looked about to cry. ‘Stefan, whatever have you said to Mr Smyth? He’s in quite a state. His daughter will be here shortly and we mustn’t upset her. She’s very generous…’
Stefan shrugged. ‘I no know what you ask, Madame Shelby, but you look very… how you say…?’
‘Haggard,’ I muttered.
Stefan sighed. ‘Very beautiful, Madame.’
Mrs Shelby blushed and waved her hand. ‘Oh, Stefan. Just be
more careful. It’s not your fault things get lost in translation. Kate, there’s a new resident in room nine. She’s a little fragile. Younger than our usual clientele. She’s refusing to get out of bed. Says she can’t walk, but she had no problems yesterday on arrival. Perhaps you could have a chat, see if you can get her up and dressed, and into the dayroom.’
I nodded. ‘I’ll try. What’s her name?’
‘Lucille Leonard. You’ll need the key. She wants the door kept locked.’
That was understandable with the likes of Smyth roaming around, interfering with everyone else’s business.
‘What’s wrong with her?

Buy Link

amazon.co.uk

About the Author

gripping tale Helen Forbes is a mystery author known for her crime novels Madness Lies and In the Shadow of the Hill. The author has also written a few contemporary and historical fiction pieces as well as short stories. When she is not writing, Forbes enjoys her work as a lawyer in Inverness. She published the first two novels based in Outer Hebrides and Inverness, two areas that she feels have not been given enough attention in the crime-fiction genre. Forbes also has a deep liking for the Gaelic language and island communities, which explains her choice of characters in her stories.

Links

 Website: www.helenforbes.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Helen-Forbes-Author-457783327732599

Twitter: https://twitter.com/foreva48

Jan 25 ~ Robbie Burns Day #haggis #poetry #bard

Jan 25, 1759 – Jul 21, 1796

Jan 25What better place to celebrate the life of Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns, than in a tartan chair in front of a crackling, wood fire, and a wee dram of single malt in your hand?

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. I’ve hosted some crackers in the past. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down editing my third book in the “It Happened Series”.

On this Jan 25, will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties (mashed potatoes) and bashed neeps (mashed turnips)?

With COVID throwing a spanner into everything, I was unable to buy a wee haggis for supper, not that I’ve had the inclination to go anywhere to get one. Something in the one-pound size or smaller suits us fine here at Chez King. Basically, I’m the only one who eats it, although my husband will have a spoonful along with me. And turnip? Definitely, only me.

So this Jan 25, I’ll fry up my last slice of frozen haggis, warm up some potatoes (if there are any left from Sunday dinner) with whatever else I make for supper. I don’t even have a single finger shortbread in the house. No sticky toffee pudding. Things will be on the lean side this year. But what I do have is whisky. So the big decision will be which single malt will I have a dram of?

With this Jan 25 falling on a Monday, celebrations will have to remain somewhat muted. After all, I have to work the next day. Okay, I’ll be working in my kitchen office, but still don’t want to do that with a sair heid.

Jan 25
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where you celebrate.

The Selkirk Grace … Some hae meat … #BurnsSupper

All Burns Suppers begin with the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit

What better place to celebrate the life of Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns, than in a tartan chair in front of a crackling, wood fire.

tartan chair by fire

Once again, I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s a portrait of the bard … a handsome fellow, don’t you think?

Selkirk Grace
January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

I’ll summon my manservant, Donald (the Red), to bring us some refreshments.

Selkirk Grace

 

whisky
By Chris huh (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Some of the selection of whiskies on hand to toast the bard. I also have a special edition Cardhu, 18-year-old Cardhu (not available in Canada), and Oban on hand should these not whet your tastebuds.

We can have cheese and oakcakes with our drams. That way we’re not too tipsy before the feast. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

(swish of swinging door as the manservant returns with a tray carrying a decanter of whisky – 18-year-old Cardhu no less, two glasses and water). “Your whisky, my lady,” he says as he places it on the table.

“Thank you.”

As the manservant straightens to leave, I cry out… “Donald, where’s your trousers?” because so unlike him, he’s wearing a kilt!

Overcome by the shock of seeing him dressed in that fashion, it takes me a moment to regain my composure. (fans self with a copy of Leopard Magazine) which is very fitting as it’s published in Aberdeenshire where my father was born.

After the Selkirk Grace is recited, the moment everyone (well maybe  NOT everyone) has been waiting for arrives – the piping in of the haggis.

Selkirk Grace

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

Now, the haggis is cut open with great pomp and circumstance, although one has to be careful they don’t get a splattering of boiling hot haggis on them when the casing is cut.

Kim Traynor [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Haggis looks like ground beef (especially in this picture). It’s rather spicy but served with turnips and mashed potatoes, the spiciness can be toned down somewhat.

After our main course, we have Cranachan for dessert.

Saskia van de Nieuwenhof from Edinburgh, United Kingdom [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
Here’s the link to a recipe for if you want to try it yourself. It’s very good, in my opinion.
Back in the day, when Burns Suppers were held at the Manitonna Hotel in Brockville, Creme de menthe parfait was the dessert. Not very Scottish, but good. I was a member of the Wee McGregors Highland Dancing group and it was at this time, we performed for the guests. Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Shepherd’s Crook and more.

© James F. Perry; crop Fui in terra aliena (talk) 05:20, 9 October 2009 (UTC) [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
That’s a real sword and it’s sharp. You just have to ask my cousin who cut the end of her toe on the tip of the blade. I won a silver medal performing this dance at the 1000 Islands Highland Games in 1969 – and no blood was shed.

Before we get started with the Ceilidh, a recitation of Burns’ poetry starting with Ae Fond Kiss by Outlander heartthrob, Sam Heughan.

Followed by Red Red Rose.

I think you’ll like what I have in store for you at the ceilidh tonight. I tried to get the Old Blind Dogs but they weren’t available. That’s okay as I do have a vast collection of Scottish music on CDs – Old Blind Dogs, The Corries, Runrig and the list goes on.

One of my favourite Runrig songs is Alba. Have a watch/listen and see what you think.

We’ve all heard of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but how many of you have heard of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers? Yup, they’re real and they play rock music on bagpipes.

How about this piece? Don’t Stop Believing by Journey played by the Pipers?

One of my favourites performed by the Old Blind Dogs is The Cruel Sister. Listen closely to the lyrics. Cruel is putting it mildly.

And another favourite by The Old Blind Dogs …

There’s a clock tower in MacDuff that has faces on three of the four sides. The side facing Banff has no face. If the good people of Banff didn’t know what time it was, they didn’t know what time MacPherson was being executed.

As we bring the evening to a close, here’s a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where you celebrate.

YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS reaches Phase 2 of the Author Shout Reader Ready awards

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.

author shout reader ready

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.

kindle

Kobo

B&N nook

iBooks

Please welcome Katherine and Jared from YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS

Today, I have the pleasure of not just one guest in the “hot seat” for a fireside chat, but two. Katherine Murphy-Whithorn and Jared Martin, from Melanie Robertson-King’s novel, YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS, are with me here today.

Can you tell us a bit about YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS?

Katherine: Unbeknownst to me, I have a stalker. I thought he was just a poor homeless bloke, plenty of them in Aberdeen, so never paid much attention to him.  That’s it. In a nutshell, it’s a psychological, romantic suspense, thriller.

I understand you met under somewhat unusual circumstances. What can you tell us about that?

Jared: I still have the mark on the top of my foot where she rammed a spike heel down on me. *chuckles*

Katherine: It wasn’t that bad. * swats playfully at his arm* I was looking at CDs in HMV and backed up to move away from the bin. I didn’t know Jared was behind me and I trod on his foot. He’s never let me forget it.

I imagine it was rather painful at the time.

Jared: If she’d been half an inch closer to my toes, she would have hit the steel cap in my work boots, and I wouldn’t have felt a thing. *winks at Kat*

What do you do for a living?

Katherine: I own a bookstore on Exchequer Row – As the Pages Turn – you might have heard of it? *far away look crosses her face*

Jared: I work offshore on the Alba Ecosse platform.

After a long time apart, you recently found each other again. How?

Katherine: I had sent my part-timer, Melissa, up to the corner of Shiprow and Union Street to collect the new chalkboard sign, so it didn’t get nicked like the old one. I advertise our shop up there because of the increased foot traffic.

Jared: I happened along, onshore for a few weeks, and saw her struggling with it, so I offered to carry it for her.

Back up one second. Katherine, you just said you advertise our shop. Earlier you said you owned.

Katherine: *takes a deep breath* My husband, and I started the business before he was killed in the London Bombings when he was off on a book buying trip.

I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry for your loss. *leans over and rubs the back of Katherine’s left hand*

Jared, before I interrupted you, you were saying?

Yeah. I picked up the sign and carried it down the street and into the shop. Poor kid never have managed on her own. It’s a heavy sucker.

Katherine: You could have knocked me over with a feather I was so gobsmacked to hear Jared’s voice and see his face. I didn’t think I would ever see him again.

If you don’t mind me asking, how did you fall apart in the beginning?

Katherine: My father was high up in the Royal Bank of Scotland. My parents didn’t approve of mine and Jared’s relationship, so when the chance came to get me away from Aberdeen, he accepted the position in Canada. They dragged me off kicking and screaming.

Jared: Didn’t approve was an understatement. Back then, I was living in a grotty bedsit trying to work my way through school. Not only was I from the wrong side of Aberdeen, I was from the wrong side of the border.

I thought I detected an English accent. What part of England?

Jared: North Yorkshire.

Recently, Melanie redesigned the cover of the book. Can you show us?

Katherine: *brings up the image on her iPad*  This one is different from the print version. While it was beautiful, it didn’t quite pull off the theme of the book – the psychological thriller aspect. This new design says it so much better.

Katherine
Yes, it is quite a powerful image.

Fire and blood are both red, making it associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. It’s also an emotionally intense colour.

In contrast, the hint of yellow reveals freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honour, loyalty, and joy, but also cowardice and deceit.

Melanie’s name in stand-alone white on red grabs the reader. The relationship of colours works well together. This book is going to the top of my TBR list.

Did I hear the book is nominated for an award?

Katherine: The 2019 Reader’s Choice Award in the thriller category. Reader’s Choice Awards in the thriller category which you’ll find on page 9. I’d love it if you voted for this book. It is a cracker.

The trailer for it is amazing. Do you think your readers would like to watch?

Blurb

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.

Where can YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS be purchased?

amazon

kobo


Books a Million


Barnes and Noble (print & nook)

iBooks

Diesel

Thank you, Katherine and Jared, for stopping by Celtic Connexions. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.
Thanks for stopping by everyone. I hope you enjoyed the second in what I hope will be a number of fireside chats with characters from Melanie’s books.

Fireside chat with Sarah and Robert from A Shadow in the Past

Today, I have the pleasure of not just one guest in the “hot seat” for a fireside chat, but two. Sarah Shand and Robert Robertson, from Melanie Robertson-King’s novel, A Shadow in the Past, are with me here today.

fireside chat

Welcome to both of you. I have a selection of single malts, if you want something to drink, along with some chilled bubbly. If you prefer something non-alcoholic, I got in some Irn Bru. I believe that’s Scotland’s other national drink? The ice bucket is full. I have some lovely nibbles, too. Haggis in puff pastry, oatcakes with Isle of Mull or Strathdon Blue cheese (Sarah wrinkles her nose) and of course, shortbread.

Sarah:  Pulls the tab on a tin of Irn Bru. “Thanks for inviting us. It’s great to be here. And yes, Irn Bru has been referred to as Scotland’s other national drink.”

“So happy to host you. You’re sure you don’t want a glass of bubbly?”

Sarah: “Maybe after our interview. I like champagne but it goes straight to my head.”

Robert: Chuckles. His golden brown eyes sparkle and a dimple forms in his cheek. “She’s right. If you want to get any sense out of her, keep her on the Irn Bru. Otherwise, she’ll babble on and you won’t understand a single thing she says. I’m going to have a wee dram of Glen Garioch, though, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, do help yourself. Now have I heard this correctly, you two had a rather unusual first meeting?”

Sarah and Robert: Giggle. “You’re right there.”

Robert: “You tell it, Sarah. It sounds so much better when you do.”

Sarah: Shifts in her chair. “You or your readers aren’t going to believe this. I still don’t.” Reaches out and takes Robert’s hand. “I’m a bit nervous.”

“Don’t be. Go on, then.”

Sarah: “Okay. I had been at the stone circle on my parents’ farm and the next thing I know, I’m waking up on a sofa at Weetshill mansion. The mansion is visible from the hill where the stone circle is but it’s a couple of miles away. How I got from one place to the other, I don’t know.”

“That’s not overly unusual.”

Sarah: “This is where things get weird. When I was at the stone circle, the year was 2010. When I woke up on the sofa at Weetshill, I was back in 1886.”

Takes a sip of bubbly and coughs.

Robert: “I heard a noise outside the front door so went to investigate. I found her passed out on the ground. At first I thought she was a laddie because she wore trousers. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered she was a lassie, and a rather pretty one at that.”

Sarah: Blushes. “You say the sweetest things. I’ve never really thought of myself as that. Ordinary and some days it stretches to moderately attractive but never pretty.”

“That is a most unusual meeting. So Robert, Weetshill mansion, it sounds like you’re well-to-do. What do you do for a living?”

Robert: “I’m the Laird of Weetshill.”

“So like Hector MacDonald in the television program Monarch of the Glen.”

Robert: “I don’t know what you mean.”

Blushes and pats him on the knee. “I’m sorry. I forgot for a moment you’re from the Victorian era.”

Sarah: “I know what you mean. And Robert is nothing like Hector MacDonald. If you want to compare him to one of the characters in the show, I would say he’s more like Archie.”

Smiles. “I always liked Archie. Thought he was a handsome fellow. As are you, too, Robert.”

Robert: Blushes. “Thank you.”

Sarah: “He’s so modest. That’s one of the things I love about him.” Reaching over and squeezing his hand.

Picks up the book and flips through it. “I’d like to ask you some more questions about your relationship.”

fireside chat

Robert: Holds up his hand. “I have to stop you there, I’m afraid. We don’t want to spoil it for Melanie’s readers. We can’t tell everything here because then they wouldn’t buy the book and that would never do.”

Traces her index finger over the cover. “Right, right, but you can’t blame me for wanting to know. I love this cover. The artist has captured your essence beautifully, Sarah.”

Sarah: “Actually, Melanie designed the cover. She did a brilliant job of portraying me. And you have to believe that because I’m not one to be ‘out there’ and now look at me. Not only did Melanie write the book, create this brilliant cover, she also created a book trailer.”

“Trailer, like you see for advertising films.”

Sarah: “Yes. Let’s watch it.”

 

“It’s amazing. The music adds an air of mystery and suspense.”

Robert: “That is does.”

Where can A Shadow in the Past be purchased?”

Sarah:

amazon (paperback and kindle)

kobo

and in paperback

Barnes and Noble

Books a Million

Diesel

There you have it, folks. The first in what I hope will be a number of fireside chats with characters from Melanie’s books. I hope you enjoyed it.

 

Here’s tae the Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns

What better place to celebrate the life of Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns, than in a tartan chair in front of a crackling, wood fire.

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

celebration
January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we celebrated last Saturday (Jan 19th). My idea of a small haggis (about 1 pound), went straight out the window when the smallest one I could get this year weighed in at almost 3 pounds!

So tonight, I’ll have some leftover haggis, sans tatties and neeps as there aren’t any leftover, with whatever else I make for supper. With Burns Day falling on a Friday, it also means it’s grocery night for this gal. A hearty Scotch broth? Fish and chips? Maybe shortbread or sticky toffee pudding for dessert? Decisions, decisions.

celebration
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.

#COVER #REVEAL ~ 2nd Edition of A Shadow in the Past

Here it is – the shiny, new cover for the 2nd Edition of my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. I’ve been busy editing the content and getting my girl ready to return to the world of print and ebooks.

When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head on only to suffer the consequences.

When Sarah 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?

Here are the covers for the series side by side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated buy links to the 2nd Edition of A Shadow in the Past to follow.

 

 

 

It’s Robbie Burns Day – House of King style

I’m remiss this year in getting an online Burns Day celebration together. Shame on me. But, I have a valid excuse. I’ve had my head down working on my next novella. If you go by word length, it does qualify as a full-fledged novel, but that’s neither here nor there.

celebration
January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

It’s Robbie Burns Day. Will you celebrate the bard today with haggis, champit tatties and bashed neeps?

Here at The House of King, we’ll be having a toned down version of previous Burns Night celebrations. Although I don’t have a wee haggis, I do have some frozen sliced haggis (great with a Scottish breakfast) so it will do, especially since I’m the only one who truly enjoys eating it here. I made Cock-a-leekie soup shortly after Christmas and it’s in the freezer and for the toasts to the lads and lassies afterwards, I have a bottles of 18-year old Glenlivet and Cardhu.

celebration
The “Guest of Honour”

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
“Bethankit!” ‘hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

And a wee bit of light reading for ‘after the feastie’.

 Enjoy your Robbie Burns celebrations no matter how/where your celebrate.

#TellaFairyTaleDay

Today is…

#TellAFairyTaleDay!

Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?

Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

#TellAFairyTaleDay
cover by Aidana WillowRaven

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.

Available from the publisher 4RV Publishing or amazon

And then there’s the sequel … Shadows From Her Past

A cruel twist of fate returns Sarah Shand to her life in the year 2010 where she discovers she is a patient in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and has been for months. Struggling to come to terms with the situation, she insists she belongs in the year 1886 at Weetshill mansion with her husband the Laird, Robert Robertson, and adopted daughter, Jenny. Her family and consultant physician try to convince her she was dreaming or hallucinating but Sarah refuses to believe them.

Robert, who has experienced strange things at the stone circle at Gordonsfield Farm, somehow breaks through the time-space continuum and visits Sarah in his future. He pleads with her to return to the past but his cryptic messages only confuse her.

Medical student, David Robb, himself a descendant of the Robertsons of Weetshill, befriends Sarah. Fascinated with her stories of the past, after her release from the hospital, he takes Sarah to meet his parents, the current owners of the mansion and surrounding land.

This year, the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur on the same day. Will a trip to the stone circle 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?

Available to buy from amazon.

Do you have a favourite fairy tale? I’d love to know what is is. Tell me in the comments.