Did you miss this?

Every two months or so, I cook up a few book-related morsels and serve them up to a faithful few – actual real people who have signed up voluntarily to receives my “goodies” – in the hope of entertaining and enlightening them on my writer’s life.

This time, in the bleak mid-winter season of flu and sneezes, ice and snow, freezing fingers and toes, I thought it called for a dose of Vitamin C.

Here’s what unravelled eventually. You, too, could be in receipt of such a treat if you were to sign up to my newsletter. There’s a link in the sidebar, on the right … just over there.

Down a bit.

Yep, that’s it. 🙂


I’ve been busy picking up oranges and lemons as they drop from my trees in this cold spell.
What on earth would I do with them all?

Have no fear. Help was at hand in the form of José Luis, a little Spanish chap who arrived, armed with a carrier bag, asking if I had any lemons to spare.
“Sí, Sí,” I answered readily, telling him to help himself.
He passes regularly to admire the abundance of fruit. Each time he tells me he has a tree in his garden and hasn’t had a lemon on it in four years. I don’t like to ask if it really is a lemon tree. He used to be in the Guardia Civil (police force), so I don’t fancy offending him.

Anyway, citrus fruit aside, the launch day for Casualty of Court is drawing ever closer, and many of my author friends have been helping me with its promotion. I’m not a keen marketeer, would much rather be writing.
So, instead of pushing it on any of you who might actually read this newsletter (I figured if you were interested, you’d clink the link above – you would, wouldn’t you?), instead of that, I thought I’d give you a glimpse at where the series is heading from here on.
Sound good to you?
I can’t hear you, but I imagine you’re nodding along … or just skimming through looking for the special offers 😉

Well, Casualty of Court introduces The Blackleaf Private Investigations Agency where my trainee PIs launch their new business. The next book is titled:In Heirlooms & Heiresses, after finding several missing dogs, lost cats, and straying husbands, they finally get their first serious case: a painting has been stolen from a guest’s room at the village’s only hotel. With the ‘thief’ soon revealed as the guest’s brother, you might assume the case is over. But, this is just the start of an adventure that takes Raven and Fern to The Netherlands. Tracing the painting’s provenance uncovers a link to WWII and some underhand dealings in the art world.
To further challenge them, a close friend calls upon their help to find her baby. But is it really a case of kidnap if the child is with her father?
Clearly, they have their hands full. As do I – and not with lemons anymore.
Heirlooms &Heiresses is two-thirds complete, and my mind is already on their next case.
You can tell I love a good mystery, particularly ones relating to art and culture crime. But I am also a big fan of beautiful settings and scenery, hence my reasoning behind these lovely locations in Europe. Casualty of Court is set in Portugal and Heirlooms & Heiresses in The Netherlands (apparently, Holland only covers 2 of the 12 regions within the country) The next adventure – Druids & Drachmas – is off to Ireland & Greece for a huge family celebration and an archaeological dig.

If you were to choose a mystery to read and a dream setting, what would you come up with? 
Send me your suggestions, and I’ll put all the senders’ names into a draw to win a copy of Casualty of Court when it
releases in March.

I’m having way too much fun, aren’t I? It only seems fair, then, that I offer you some reward for having got this far. Here are a few treats, made available to you by some dear writer friends of mine.

Who fancies a dark mystery set in Hawaii? I, for one, could do with some tropical sunshine right now.
House of the Hanging Jade offers just that.

“A dark presence has invaded the Jorgensen’s house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting …”

Amy’s book is on offer at only 99p/99c until March 4th, so I’m saving your pennies with this one.

If that not’s for you, how about Twelve Stories for Spring.
I love a short story collection. It’s perfect for those times when you have half an hour to spare. Whether you’re stuck in a waiting room or cosy on the sofa, a little escapism helps in any circumstance.
American author, Linda Mansfield, offers a baker’s dozen of seasonal, fictional stories, suitable for all age groups. These quick, light reads were designed for stress relief in today’s busy world.
Well, that almost makes me a doctor – prescribing stress-busters to you all 🙂 

My last treat for you is free until Feb 11th, so you might have to hurry up and grab your copy quickly. Unclaimed Baggage (US link) is a heart-wrenching story that will have you gripped from the very first page.
(Click on the cover image for the UK link)

Well, that’s it for. After taking care of your pennies, relieving your stress and – hopefully – bringing a smile to your face, I’ll get back to my lemons – I have a hankering for lemon meringue pie now, so anything could happen. I really hope you’ll enter the giveaway, otherwise I’ll be sucking on those lemons for a long, long time.

It’s all over now 🙂 Well done you for sticking it out until the end. 
Stay safe, warm and smiling!


So, that’s what you may have missed. But, you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. You know what to do 😉

Thanks for reading


The Blackleaf Agency

I’ve been writing a lot recently about the characters of Casualty of Court, but you may have noticed it’s part of a series. Don’t worry if you missed that – I’ll be banging on about it quite a lot from here on 🙂

The Blackleaf Agency Series.

The Fifth Wheel (creatively titled as Book 0 in the series) is the prequel, and sets up the story for the court trial in Casualty of Court (Book 1). However, that is just the start. (I know, starting at 1, it’s a genius move, isn’t it? So under-done 😉 )

You see, Book 1 only introduces the reader to The Blackleaf Agency.

The first case for the newly qualified Raven and her business partner, Fern, happens in Book 2:

Heirlooms & Heiresses.

Are you still with me?

In H&H, The Blackleaf Private Investigations Agency is employed by the local hotelier, initially to root out the culprit behind a series of petty thefts occurring in the hotel. However, before Raven even checks in as a mystery guest, a bigger case unravels. A guest reports a painting has been ‘stolen’ from her room. The thief, however, is known to her and she seeks The Agency’s help in recovering it – from her brother.

What transpires is a sibling dispute over an inheritance.

Proving the value and the provenance of the artwork takes the new investigators to The Netherlands, where links to WWII reveal the painting has both historical and cultural worth.

H&H is a cosy mystery filled with humour and intrigue, set in beautiful locations in the UK and The Netherlands. Naturally, there’s some tasty food and a pet in the mix – well, it wouldn’t be a cosy without them, would it?

While the art-related story covers the “Heirloom” element of the title, another case awaits the agency back at the hotel – one with personal ramifications this time. This is where the story picks up a thread from Casualty of Court, reintroducing familiar characters and a case of child abduction (the “Heiress”). (Spoiler alert! Not really – I’ll not going to say any more of this here – at least, not until CofC has been released)

I’m three-quarters through writing this book, and am planning Book 3 as I write this.

Again, it will have an arty theme and will be set in more stunning European locations.

Druids & Drachmas

D&D sees The Agency investigating a case surrounding an architectural dig in Greece, and there’s an event going on in Ireland that might just add an extra zing of romance to this book.

This one is in the very early stages, so I can’t tell you any more (well, I could, but then I’d have to kill you – and then I’d have no readers!)

Wondering why I chose to write a series?

(I thought you’d never ask!)

Well my interest in art and culture crime was piqued after I did a course on the subject online – and there really is no end to the possibilities that such a theme can conjure up. The characters from The Fifth Wheel – initially just a short story for an anthology – got under my skin and I didn’t want to say goodbye to them. So, the idea of putting my imaginary friends into the fascinating world of art crime and mixing in my love of European countries and culture took root. Hey presto, the rest is pure fiction 🙂

I hope you stay around and grow to love them too. You can sign up to my newsletter from the sidebar – then you’ll never miss another second. Go on, you know you want to.


Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court is available to pre-order now as an ebook, releasing March 21st 2018. Click here to view on Amazon

In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out how it all began.

If you want to catch up on my Character Interviews, here’s the first one.


Too busy to write? Not me!

The best part about being a writer is the writing (oh, and research – I  research), so it came as quite a shock when I realised that summer was over and I’d barely written a word.
The reason: Eddie & Marcia – aka editing and marketing (two words that fuel my procrastination like no others)

Editing, in the form of Eddie the Evil Reaper, is a natural by-product of the writing process, complete with scythe to chop away those words and trim your text.

He demands your complete attention, being one of those necessary evils. You just have to do his bidding and get on with it.

Fortunately, I’ve come to the end of the line and am now able to pass my WIP – Casualty of Court – onto my editor, who will no doubt cast the mighty red pen over all those changes I meticulously made in an attempt to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Marketing, however, enters your life as a mischievous minx named Marcia, but who is known by the wise  as the very devil herself. Wearing a shiny dress and flapping her gossamer wings she offers all the treats in the world if you, the author, deign to share your book with her. She teases you with images of glittery success, forcing you to promote your stories in places you would otherwise fear to tread – SOCIAL MEDIA!

I played along though, running a promotion for Lacey’s Law that garnered more downloads than ever before. However, it didn’t translate into reviews, so Lacey continues to die a death in obscurity. Personally, I think Marcia is jealous of Lacey and so spiked the whole process – promising the world in one hand and then taking it back before any benefit could be found.

Magic O’Clock had much more success with The Story Cartel, where in a month it received several new Amazon reviews across different countries. The same could be said of Goodreads where Magic had a  growth spurt as well as featuring in some wonderful – and I truly mean fabulous – blog posts. Not even Marcia could knock the shine off Magic’s time in the spotlight.

But now the marketing must take a backseat as I work towards bringing Fern & Raven back into the limelight. The prequel – A Fifth Wheel – has been well received, but it’s time now to tell the rest of the story. Casualty of Court (as mentioned earlier) has gone to the editor …which means I have time to write. Yay!

Heirlooms & Heiresses is now under construction, and Fern & Raven are back again, this time as private investigators in their own agency – The Blackleaf Agency. This story requires some research, so I’m mixing up my time, writing and planning as the story unfolds. (Naturally, there is no outline, but I just don’t … !)

And while that’s rumbling on, I’m polishing off another short story – To make the birds cry – ready for release in a couple of months.

It’s great to be back at the writing stage – although I know Eddie and Marcia will return to spoil my fun in the not too distant future.

But in the meantime, I can safely say – too busy to write? Not me!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Dangling the carrot

Call me crazy – you wouldn’t be the first – but, for once in my writerly life I am thinking ahead. My next full novel is months away from publication – and that’s a good thing. I want it to be perfect, or as perfect as it can be anyway. It’s doing the rounds with a few beta readers right now, then it’s off to the editor in October (after I’ve absorbed the readers’ feedback). Another round of betas follows, then a final proofread and it will be good to go.

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m “dangling the carrot” when there are still so many stages yet to go.
Great question.
I thought the same way with my first book, and didn’t bother creating any “buzz” (although, I did follow all the same stages pre-launch) As a result, once the book went on sale, I then had to find readers.
Not an easy task – let me tell you. Especially when no-one really knew I was even writing a book.
I’ve learned a little since then – which is why I’m trying to get ahead of the game.

I’ll be adding a short book to this site soon – available to download at no charge – to accompany the book being available to pre-order.

Meet the Cast introduces the four main protagonists of Casualty of Court and gives the reader an insight into their mindset, outlining their thoughts, wants, issues etc. It’s a brief glimpse into their personalities – a trip behind the looking-glass.
Hopefully, it will plant a seed in the minds of readers – who knows, maybe a few will even pre-order it. But, whatever the outcome, it’s a step forward on the launch path.

I promise you – Casualty of Court is coming.
Sooner than you think.

Casualty of Court is the main story that follows on from The Fifth Wheel. You can catch up with the story still. For Amazon users click here, or here for other ereaders.

But if you’d rather wait then don’t worry – you don’t need to read the prequel to follow the main novel. Just think – blue skies, sunshine, the wind in your hair … and then you’re plunged into the Mediterranean, abandoned and left to drown. That’s what happened to Fern Mortimer – and now she’s back in Portugal to face her attacker in court. Only one of them can win. Who will be the Casualty of Court?

Sign up to my newsletter by clicking here for insider info, a cover reveal and details on the book’s progress prior to launch. Free ARCs will be offered (Advanced Reader Copies) in the October newsletter, and will be with the lucky winners just in time for Christmas.


W is for … Who, What, Where, When & Why?

The 5 Ws of storytelling – as applied to my  next release Courting Danger 

  • Who

Who’s involved? From the character profiles already posted, this should come as no surprise that the story revolves around the four lives of Fern, Raven, Nessa and Stefan.

  • What

What’s it all about? Principally a court case, following on from Stefan’s attempt to kill Fern last summer. The story aims to look at both sides of the case and deliver the reasons behind each character’s actions and motivations.

  • Where

Where is it set? Primarily in Portugal for the trial, but then it’s back to England and the fictional town of Framleigh.

  • When

When does it take place? It picks up eight months after the girls’ summer holiday. Since that time, Stefan has been in the remand centre awaiting trial, and plotting for his freedom. Fern & Raven returned to Framleigh after the attempted drowning and now make their way back to Portugal for the trial. Nessa had also returned to England, but kept away from the others and soon found herself back in the Algarve, renting a villa near to the remand centre to be close to Stefan.

  • Why

Why am I telling this story? The summer holiday tale was originally planned as a short story for an anthology, and is told in The Fifth Wheel. But I soon realised I couldn’t leave it unresolved. The pursuit of justice meant there had to be a follow-up story. Then, the characters took over and wanted more attention. So much so that there is another story (or three) to follow – Heirlooms & Heiresses being the first one that sees the girls start up a new venture as Private Investigators in their very own business: The Blackleaf Agency.

V is for … Village life

 Framleigh: a profile.

Framleigh, where Raven, Fern & Nessa grew up is a fictional village in rural England

Here are some facts to fill in the blanks regarding the girls and their village.

  • How does the setting uniquely belong to your characters?

It’s their birthplace and home – although Nessa moved to the city a while back, before the holiday in Portugal. All three girls grew up in the area; Raven and Nessa attending the same school while Fern lived on the outskirts in one of the modern estates.

  • Why is this setting important to them?

Fern sees the village as a secure place, somewhere she can avoid life and restrict her time to her family and Dougal. For Raven, the village is all about family ties, childhood memories and community spirit.

  • How do they feel about this setting?

Fern considers it to be her safe haven, calm and steady. No nasty shocks or unexpected dramas. Raven, on the other hand, does feel a sense of claustrophobia at times. Yet, she also appreciates how it makes her feel comfortable and competent.

  • What does the setting look like?

Framleigh is centred around a village green. The old Tudor Manor House is now a hotel. The village pub and the community centre at the church are the regular haunts for Nessa and Raven. The river Sreve skirts the village, marking the boundary between the hamlets of Frampton and Tonleigh. To the west is town of Gaukwich, where other facilities exist (police station, Post Office, Library)and the ‘big’ city of Worford lies approx twenty miles to the east, through arable land and midsized farms boasting award-winning livestock breeds.

  • What does the setting smell like?

The village now boasts a mix of old-world charm, farm land and the occasional office block giving a nod to more modern times. Traffic has increased, bringing pollution to the area and smog, which together with the stench of farmer’s spraying crops, animals and hops gives the area a unique and varied perfume. On top of that, the villagers partake in traditional activities such as cook-offs (cheese, jams, cakes and local ale  all feature heavily.

  • What does the setting sound like?

Generally peaceful, except on market day or during fetes, when the local hotel and shops are filled with tourists and competitive stallholders vying for prestigious rosettes.

  • Is there a taste or touch sensory experience related to this setting?

The experience is one of overwhelming peace and quiet,except during rush hour or when the schools end for the day.

  • What role will this setting play in your story?

The setting provides both background and back story and memories. In future stories, for example in Heirlooms & Heiresses, the village and its residents, facilities and layout feature more heavily.

  • How would a stranger coming into this space feel?

The vibe is calm and unsuspecting, homely and comfortable, quaint and traditional – but with modernity advancing at a steady pace in future tales.

Welcome To Framleigh – Have a Good Stay 🙂 

R is for … Raven Hegarty

Character profile.

Name: Raven Hegarty

Age: 25

Description: Black-haired, 5’9, brown eyes, olive skin, very attractive. No fuss girl, no make-up, or jewellery.

Lives in Framleigh (a fictional village in Warks), with her mum, Rachel. Boyfriend is Finn Delaney (PC at local station, was a trainee with her and they re-met when she began her Tae Kwon Do classes – he is a part-time instructor at the community centre)
She was training to be a PC when her mum was diagnosed with MS. Gave up her career to care for her mum and worked in a supermarket to make ends meets, but resigned out of boredom – and after a masked gang raided the store during one of hers shifts.)
When her mum’s condition deteriorates, Raven is forced to accept help from the community. As she realises that she cannot be the carer her mum needs, she decides (encouraged completely by her mum) to retrain. Upset at missing out on her chosen police career, she is keen to work in a similar field, and retrains as a PI so she can work from home. She yearns for fulfilment, to feel that she is making a difference. She detests injustice of any sort and has attended many protests and demos to have her voice heard.
When a former very close friend (Nessa) chose a new man over her (and Fern) during a recent and much-needed holiday, Raven was incensed. The fact that the man was using Nessa and tried to drown Fern resulted in them attending his trial in Portugal and Nessa still stood by him. Raven disowned Nessa and became best friends with Fern, the victim.

Her mum, Rachel, is also dark-haired, but greying at the temples. Slim build. Pale skin, often in pain but puts on a smile.

Finn is tall, strawberry-blond-verging-on-ginger, wavy hair, broad-shouldered, big hands, grey eyes. Quite serious. Fascinated by forensics, wants to branch off to CID. Allergic to animal hair.

She is a sociable woman, loves pubs and dancing, gets on well with old folk since she admires their values and stories of past adventures. She has no time for misbehaved kids, jobsworths, call centres, salesmen in general (Smarmy smooth talkers)
Enjoys going to the rifle range with Finn. Takes mum to various support centres at hospital. She is determined and focused. Raven is a fighter. Impulsive, hot-headed, loud, abrasive and opinionated She doesn’t suffer fools. Acts first, thinks later. Too quick to get involved. Meddlesome. She has been stuck in a rut for the last two years and yearns for excitement and something to focus her intelligent mind on. Assuming that her loved ones are safe, she will jump into any adventure feet first and trust her instincts for a successful outcome.
But she is a very faithful friend – unless betrayed.
She is scared of getting MS like her mum yet avoids doctors in case something is found.
Feels betrayed by Nessa, but misses her friendship. Feels let down by officialdom and has a deep loathing for bureaucracy and paperwork of all sorts..

Raven is the glue in the story and holds much of the cast together. Her reactions are always pivotal and wide-reaching.