Seaside cottages, disobedient dogs and the magic of muse

A Cornish Summer's Kiss ebook cover jpgI don’t post on the Fabrian Books’ blog as often as I probably should, but every once in a while I have more to say than can be confined to a tweet or series of hashtags on Instagram. Today is one of those occasions. I am (very quietly) celebrating the launch of book fourteen, which might extend to an extra squeeze of syrup on my pancakes tonight… or it might not!

After thirteen previous occurrences, book release day is just another day. So I took the dogs out for a walk as I always do. Whilst I was out, I thought I would take a photograph of a house on the beach close to me, which reminds me of the book cover for A Cornish Summer’s Kiss. You might question whether there are really any thatchedimage5 cottages that overlook the sea, with white cliffs in the distance, but I can promise you there are. It might not be cut off from the rest of the world at high tide, like Myrtle Cottage in A Cornish Summer’s Kiss is, but I think it’s lovely all the same.

I almost ended up acting out the first scene from the new novel, just to get the photos today. When Lexie heads down to Port Kara to work out a way forward after the death of her husband in a surfing accident, she finds herself stranded on an impassable cliff path after her wayward Labrador, Albie, takes an unexpected leap of faith. I often find myself in slightly precarious situations with my dogs because, let’s just say, they’re not exactly trained the Barbara Woodhouse way – for anyone else who’s old enough to remember who that is! Their default position is to run off and pretend to be as deaf as posts when someone or something more interesting than me comes along; that could be anything from a rabbit, to another dog, or even dancing leaves swept up on the breeze. This means, if I’m going to let them off the lead, then it’s usually somewhere off the main path, where we hopefully won’t bump into other dog walkers with their far more obedient canines.

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The dogs in the background today and the selfie face I always pull when I’m desperately trying to look thinner!

I was in the Llyn Peninsula in Wales when I actually got stuck on the wrong side of a gap in the cliffs, getting myself into serious trouble, just like Lexie, trying to rescue my own Labrador, Lola. Sadly I wasn’t saved by a rugged lifeboat crewman, as Lexie is in A Cornish Summer’s Kiss, but I have to say I’ve never been as grateful for my husband’s ability to keep far calmer than me, than I was that particular day. On that same Welsh beach I spotted a row of old fisherman’s cottages, that were cut off by high tide, and it was the combination of these two things that inspired me to write the first chapter of what became A Cornish Summer’s Kiss.

My plan when taking the photos today was just to post the pictures and the front cover, side by side, but it got me thinking about why I write about seaside settings more often than not. I was born a couple of minutes from the sea and only once ever lived more than a few miles away from the coast. I lasted twelve months in Warwickshire, but the lure of the sea soon drew me back home to Kent. I’ve now written seven books set on the Kent coast, three in Cornwall (a favourite UK holiday destination), two in the Scottish Highlands and one in the Kent countryside.  I suppose it’s in the blood and living so close to the sea, even now, I can’t help but imagine my protagonists living their lives with the smell of sea salt in the air too.

It also occurred to me, when I was scaling the banks of the slope today, that dogs feature image3in almost all of my stories as well. Like the sea, they’ve been in my life from day one, and I couldn’t imagine my house without at least one dog thumping its tail on the mat to welcome us home. Walking the dogs always helps me get the next phase of the story straight in my head, so it’s no surprise that they should frequently appear as integral characters in my stories. These days, with teenagers in the house – one of whom has turned mood swings into a semi-professional occupation – escaping with the dogs is even more of a draw.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn A Cornish Summer’s Kiss I write about the big skies and endless horizons that you just don’t find elsewhere. Walking the dogs today, and taking some photos to mark release day, reminded me just how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much inspiration. It looks like I’ll be writing about seaside locations, and the dogs that love them every bit as much as their human companions, for some time to come!

A Cornish Summer’s Kiss is available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. With a big thank you to all at Fabrian books and my lovely friend, Toni Jones, for helping the book over the finish line.

Jo Bartlett

Finding Granddad

IMG_5133One of the greatest sadnesses of my adult life is that my dad never got to meet my children. He would have adored them too. My daughter has his acerbic wit and perfect timing with one liners, and he’d have loved cheering on my son’s prowess on the rugby pitch.

What makes it worse is that my husband also lost his father before the children were born, although they are blessed to have two wonderful grandmothers. I had to accept from the beginning that they were going to miss out on having a grandfather in their lives and that seemed such a shame. Only my maternal grandfather was still alive when I was born, but I remember clearly what is what like to spend time with him. He lived near the seaside and had boxes of shells in his shed, which felt like a treasure trove back then. He was such a kind man with a twinkly smile and he used to tease us by calling us the flippin’ kids, but it was all done with affection. He mastered the art of banter long before it was given a name.

As it turns out, my children didn’t miss out at all, because a granddad came into theirSS100638 lives unexpectedly. He might not be biologically related to them, but Peter has given them everything I’d imagined a granddad would, and more.  When we first met him, his lovely wife Maureen had just cut his hair. Unfortunately, she forgot to put the guard on the clippers and Peter was left with a reverse Mohican, but he just made a joke about it. I knew from that moment we were going to be friends, but I had no idea how much more he would become.

image1 (1)Peter has played endless games with my children, and even in his seventies was still a whizz at Just Dance on the Wii, he helped rebuild the derelict house we bought, accompanied us on trips to see Santa, told the funniest stories and sat through excruciating singing in school concerts.

I often write love stories and, when the protagonists meet, their lives usually change forever. It isn’t just romantic love that can be life changing, though, and sometimes a person can drop into your life who just fits right in, as if they were made to be there.  Peter has been one of those people for my family and so I knew exactly who I wanted to dedicate my latest book, Finding Dad, to.

They say you can choose your friends and not your family, but I don’t think that’s true. Peter and Maureen are the family we chose, whether they like it or not. So if you’re lucky enough to spend this Christmas with a father or grandfather figure, whether they share your DNA or not, make sure you give them an extra hug.  And if you happen to meet a man with a reverse Mohican, it might just be your lucky day.

Jo Bartlett

Finding Dad – When Freya Halliwell sets out to find her biological father, she has no idea what else she’s about to discover.

A Lake in Switzerland

The first time I saw Lake Constance was when I spent a long weekend there with a girlfriend and her parents, way back in the eighties, shortly after I came to Switzerland. We arrived at the hotel, went up to our second-floor bedrooms, and – wow. There it was, a huge expanse of blue, stretching from Austria on the right, all the way along the Swiss bank in front and to the left, with Germany just visible on the opposite side.

Little did I know back then that one day I’d be living on the banks of this lake, and even less did I imagine I’d ever be a published writer. Now, X years and nine books later, I finally have a novel set here.

The view I saw that first time is the one admired by Stacy and Emily at the start of A Lake in Switzerland. Like me, they were gobsmacked, and like me, they visited many of the local tourist attractions during their time at the Lakeside Hotel. It’s a very picturesque area, though maybe not as well-known as the Matterhorn, for instance, or Lake Lucerne, or the mountains of the Bernese Oberland.

And that’s part of its charm. We have tourists here, but not in swarms. There’s space, and peace along the lakeside even in summer. Stacy and Emily have a hard time sightseeing at first, due to Emily’s injury, but with a little help they manage a cable car trip, a visit to the truly spectacular Rhine Falls, and of course, a boat trip on the lake. And all the time I was writing, I was sitting at my desk by the window, blue water flickering through trees along the lake bank in front of me, remembering my own visits to these places.

How lucky am I that I can re-visit so easily?

 

If you’d like to know more about life in N.E. Switzerland, have a look at my blog – regular posts about books, writing, and of course, lovely Switzerland! https://lindahuber.net/blog/

Or follow me on Twitter: @LindaHuber19 and @MelHuberCH

And you can read about Stacy and Emily’s adventures in A Lake in Switzerland here: getBook.at/ALIS

#PublicationDay for Zara Thorne!

We’re delighted to wish Zara Thorne a very happy publication day, with her latest novel, Christmas at Spindlewood.

Laura Engleby loves Christmas; it’s her favourite time of year. Her daughter, Holly, is due home from university; Spindlewood, their draughty but beautiful old house with its quirky turret, awaits its dressing up for the festive season; Cynthia, the Christmas tree fairy, is a vision in pink, and preparations are well in hand for Laura’s Christmas Eve party, a tradition started in her late husband James’s time, to which most of the residents of Charnley Acre are invited, and those who aren’t turn up anyway.
When Clayton Masters, owner of Green and Fragrant Garden Services, finds himself with nowhere to sell his Christmas trees, Laura doesn’t hesitate to let him use her garden. Christmas trees at Spindlewood – what could be more perfect? It’s easy to overlook the fact that it’s Spencer Jennings, the man Laura might just spend the rest of her life with, who is preventing Clayton from using his usual tree sales plot in the centre of the village. After all, it’s just business. Isn’t it?
Storm clouds gather above Spindlewood, threatening Laura’s festive mood when she discovers that Clayton and Spencer are bitter enemies. She has no idea why, and nobody is saying, least of all the two men involved. Spencer’s behaviour towards Clayton is as far from the spirit of the season as it could be, and Laura starts to wonder how well she really knows him. Clayton, on the other hand, behaves impeccably. What is more, it seems he will do anything for Laura.
When she realises that Clayton hates Christmas, Laura is shocked. How can anyone hate Christmas? But a much deeper shock is in store when she discovers the reason.
Laura is on a rescue mission – but what has Clayton’s tragic story got to do with her, and why does his happiness matter so much to her?

Christmas at Spindlewood is available to buy now here, and it’s just 99p. A real Christmas bargain.

Christmas with Fabrian Books

It’s may only be the first day of October today, but at Fabrian Books we’re totally in the Christmas zone! Over the coming weeks, we have a selection of fabulous festive fiction for you to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

You can look forward to cosy village romances, dramas in New York, love, laughter, chocolate, and lots of snow! We also have a fabulous new collection of short stories that take us right through the year, and are a real nostalgic treat.

 

 

With authors Jo Bartlett, Sharon Booth, Zara Thorne and Pat Posner all releasing one or more new books, your reading pleasure is guaranteed. We will reveal more covers and publication dates on our Facebook page here, and on Twitter, so if you’re not already following us on social media, you should do it now.

 

 

 

 

The Christmas countdown is on!

A Summer of New Releases and New Authors!

It’s been a busy few weeks at Fabrian Books.

We’re delighted to say that two new authors have joined us. Welcome to Fabrian Books, Zara Thorne and Pat Posner. Both are experienced writers with a pretty impressive body of work behind them. You can read all about Zara here, and about Pat here. Zara’s debut with Fabrian Books is already available (more about that in a moment) and Pat’s first release will be out in the near future. We’ll bring you the news as soon as we confirm dates.

Recent weeks have seen the release of three new publications in our “Fabrian Books’ Feel-Good” selection. These books are what we call our heart-warming collection. We have some wonderful stories which, in many cases, were previously published in magazines or as pocket novels. They are what they say – feel good stories, which will leave you feeling all warm and cosy inside. We guarantee a happy ending!

In mid July, Zara’s first Fabrian release, Escape to Sunrise Cottage, was released. This was followed in early August by Jo Bartlett’s second in the Channel View Farm series, Second Chances at Channel View Farm. With Give Me Your Answer Do achieving bestseller status on Amazon (as have all Jo’s Fabrian publications!) it was gratifying to see that SCACVF promptly followed suit. Congratulations, Jo!

 

 

 

At the weekend, on August 12th, Sharon Booth’s second Feel-Good book was published. New Doctor at Chestnut House, set in the village of Bramblewick on the North Yorkshire Moors, is the first in a new series based in and around a country doctor’s practice.  It was lovely to see Sharon’s and Zara’s books close together on the Medical Fiction Hot New Releases chart on Amazon recently.

We have some terrific new stories lined up for you in the future. Pat Posner’s debut will follow soon, and then we are gearing up for Christmas. We have some wonderful books on their way, so keep a look out for them. You can find all Fabrian books by clicking on this link. Happy reading!

Beltane – New Cover Reveal

Alex Beltane ebook coverI’m delighted to announce that my supernatural fantasy romance, Beltane, has a gorgeous new cover.  The cover features a rather good looking Green Man.  I’m rather taken by his lovely eyes and how it’s clear that under those leaves there’s a really interesting and (let’s be honest) downright sexy guy.

Now if you’ve not read Beltane then you might be thinking, what’s with the Green Man.  I’m afraid to answer that question would need a spoiler alert so I’ll just say that the Green Man is a very key character in the book.

My original title for Beltane was The Green Man but after one too many person said, “Sounds like a pub” I decided Beltane was a better option. It’s taken me a while to find my perfect Green Man for the cover and, since I published the book, readers have very kindly sent me Green Men that they’ve found on their travels.  I’ve now got pictures of Green Men from all over the UK so I thought I’d share a few with you.  There’s stone ones, wood ones, knitted ones and even ones on biscuits!

IMG_0703Green Men have been around for many centuries but that name wasn’t used until 1939 when Lady Raglan coined it in an article about ‘The Green Man in Church Architecture’ which was published in the Folklore Journal.  Before that they were known as foliate heads being essentially heads surrounded by foliage.

Green Men are surprisingly ancient.  There are Roman examples of the Green Man and carvings from Mesopotamian in present-day Iraq.  Surprisingly, as he’s (probably) associated with fertility and nature, he’s found in many mediaeval churches where you’ll find him carved in wood or stone.  He had a bit of a revival in the nineteenth century when he was a favourite of the Gothic revivalist and arts and crafts movement.  Since then he’s been interpreted by artists, had a festival named after him and a lot of albums (I’ve just discovered, and I have to say it seems somewhat unlikely to me, that Mark Owen of Take That’s 1996 solo album was called ‘The Green Man’) and given his name to a Morris side (which my Morris dancing friend tells me is the technical name for a group of Morris dancers).

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Green Man biscuits

The Green Man is sometimes confused with Jack in the Green (the trickster character of English May Day parades), Green George (who it turns out is a leaf covered young man in mummer’s plays), John Barleycorn (a character in a folk song which personifies the life cycle of barley) and Robin Hood (yes, the robbed from the rich to give to the poor Nottinghamshire outlaw).  But he predates all of them.

Interestingly, with all those images of him there’s no clear understanding of what he represents. The experts aren’t one hundred percent sure which means there’s lots of different theories.  Some believe he’s a symbol of death and rebirth, others that he’s a symbol of fertility and others that he’s a symbol of life and nature.   For me, it’s the last one that rings true and that’s why he’s important in Beltane.

Knitted green manI hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my Green Man photo gallery.  They’re all remarkably handsome in different ways.  If you’ve got a photo of a Green Man or if you see one on your travels then I’d love to see it.  You can add a comment below, tweet me at @Alyswestyork, post on my Facebook page @alyswestwrites or visit my website at www.alyswest.com

If you’d like to know more about Beltane click here