Wednesday, 6 June 2018

New Release - ENVY THE WIND a story of Prince Edward Island





Book Blurb

Grace Aitken's life changed forever when her parents were killed in a carriage accident in a London street.


At the age of twelve she she became the ward of her father’s business partner,  Angus MacKinnon and attended the North London Collegiate School in Camden, London, run by Miss Frances Buss. The school gave her a well-rounded progressive education, unusual for Victorian girls, yet with her home life so restrictive, Grace always wondered why her guardians allowed it. 

When Grace was seventeen, her pious father-in-law convinced her that she owed him a debt of gratitude which could be expunged by marrying his son, Frederick. Grace discovered a brotherly friendship with her husband, whose delicate health after five years of marriage culminated in his contracting pneumonia, although their childlessness was a fault placed squarely at Grace’s door.

At twenty-three and a widow, her in-laws assumed Grace would take on the role of dependent housekeeper and nurse, especially to her semi-invalid mother-in-law; a condition Grace suspects she has chosen. 

The MacKinnons, including Angus' sisters, heap criticism on Grace for her ‘wicked ways’, which are no more outrageous than going for walks in the village without a maid, or reading a Women’s Suffrage pamphlet. 

Conversation in the MacKinnon's Hampstead Heath mansion tended to be stilted and unenlightened - books and newspapers were not for general consumption and society restricted to church services and an occasional tea party with her in-law's like-minded acquaintances.

Several weeks after her husband's death, Grace finds a solicitor's letter hidden amongst Frederick's belongings which details the inheritance her parents left in trust for her until her 21st Birthday. 

Beneath the guise of running an errand, Grace visits the solicitor’s office where she discovers she is not poor and dependent upon her in-laws after all. Her rebellious side emerges and she makes a bid for freedom by booking passage for Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada on the SS Parisian and a new life far away from England and everything she knows.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Ghost Ship of Prince Edward Island

Whilst doing research of Prince Edward Island where my latest wip, Envy The Wind,  is set, I came across a ghost story about a ship which has appeared since 1768 in the Northumberland Strait  the stretch of water which separates Prince Edward Island from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.


The ship doesn’t have a name, but is described as having ‘crisp white sails and a black shiny hull’ that are completely engulfed in flames. She is not always sighted in the same place or a specific time, although more often between September and November whe she is believed to be the forewarning of a north easterly storm.

Attempts have been made to rescue the crew, one of which happened in Charlottetown Harbour around 1900, when a group of sailors reported they could see members of the crew running back and forth to avoid the flames. A rowboat raced toward the ship but it disappeared before they reached it. A thorough search was carried out by divers, but no shipwreck was found.

Sometimes large numbers of witnesses claim to see the ship simultaneously, all agreeing it  was moving fast, even on nights when there was no wind. One sighting was described as follows: [paraphrased]

As it came nearer it seemed to lose speed and stopped opposite our house. We got up on the banks to watch but there was no sign of anyone on board and no dory on tow. About ten minutes after she stopped, smoke began to rise slowly over the deck. There were men who seemed to come up from below and run around the deck in every direction as flames spread across the deck. Men climbed the masts, but when they were halfway up, all the sails caught at the same time. The men were no longer visible as the ship was engulfed in flames. We watched it until the flames died and everything crumbled to the deck. The hull gradually sank lower in the water until it disappeared.

Ferries crossing the Strait between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island before the Confederation Bridge was built often encountered the phantom ship. A ferryboat captain reported sailing straight through the flames finding nothing, while another claimed to have seen “a burning vessel appeared aglow with fire and was moving fast.” 

In 1885, a group of rescuers attempted to help the burning ship were lost themselves, never to be heard from again – although this could be apocryphal as I couldn’t find any specific evidence of this event.

In 1905, a New Brunswick scientist William Francis Ganong suggested the nature of the light described in sightings could be a natural electrical phenomena on the surface of the sea which rises in columns, and resembled the flaming rigging of a ship. Another explanation is that the ship is a bank of fog reflecting moonlight, or the setting of the moon on the horizon. Not as romantic as a burning ghost ship, but at least it does not have its origins in an ancient disaster.

Stories of sightings don’t vary much, and its observed from both sides of the strait, the south coast of Prince Edward Island, the North coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as well as Caribou Island and Pictou Island.

The Isabella, a schooner which set sail with a cargo of lumber in December 1868 was lost at sea off Labrador. She was last seen by a lighthouse keeper on Amet Island during a violent storm off Nova Scotia, but no trace of her was ever found. Was this the mysterious ghost ship?

Other theories are she is an immigrant ship of Highland Scots, lost at sea while searching for new land, or a pirate ship sunk near Merigomish by a British warship during the Napoleonic War. One explanation is she was a pirate ship that pillaged a ship from England, then the crew got into a drunken brawl with another pirate ship over the spoils during which both ships caught fire and all hands were lost.

"There's a burst of flame and a flash of light
And there on the tide is a frightening sight
As a tall ship all aflame lights up the sky
Tales of the phantom ship, from truck to keel in flames
She sails the wide Northumberland Strait
No one knows her name.”

From "Tales of the Phantom Ship" a song by Lennie Gallant


In June 2014, Canada Post issued a stamp depicting the Northumberland Strait ghost ship, issued on Friday 13th as part of a series of Canadian ghost story stamps. 



Envy The Wind - A story of Prince Edward Island will be released in Summer 2018

Personally, I don't believe in ghosts, or the paranormal, and maybe the 'light phenomenon' explanation is feasible. However, islands and coastal areas like Cornwall often have romantic tales connected with the sea passed down through the years which add to their character.

After all, stranger things happen at sea.
Coming Summer 2018

Thursday, 7 December 2017

An Author's Regret

I am currently writing a novel for the Canadian Brides Series of books produced by BWL Publishing to celebrate the 150 years of Canada's History. Part of the process is a monthly blog post on specified subjects. This month the subject was, 'What Would You Change.'

And that got me thinking - and the most outstanding thing is that I would have listened to those voices of my childhood that said I could, and should write. Not a crowd of enthusiastic teachers and mentors, but the one or two spontaneous remarks which even then I could sense were genuine.

I should have asked those early voices why they thought so, or even how I could go about becoming a writer –  but I was brought up in an atmosphere of blending in, never drawing attention to yourself and where the words ‘not for the likes of us.’ still ring down the years.

It might sound like a cop out to say, ‘no one showed me how to do it’ but that’s how it was to feel something is achievable for others but not for me. I didn’t have much of a sense of self-worth, so I didn’t reach for the stars, only the nearest thing. The thought of ‘what if’ was always there, but with no idea of how to turn that spark of ambition that never quite grew into a flame a reality.

This was, of course, in the pre-internet days when libraries were sanctums of yellow-paged hardbacks and indexed file cards guarded by frizzy haired matrons who believed silence must be maintained at all costs, especially against questions from schoolgirls – so where to start? No, I didn't live in medieval times but in comparison to today it might have seemed like it.

So I floundered, toyed, and touched the surface ever so lightly, but never jumped in.

I began writing late and purely to please myself. During a process of criticism, editing and reading, I discovered that writing is a craft which begins with some talent, but can be acquired and needs to be honed by practice reading, editing and more practice.

The more I write, the more I realise there is so much more I don’t know about writing – or even what good writing actually is. It's  also not how technically perfect you can turn out a piece of prose; it’s about how you communicate feelings and experiences in a unique voice with which readers can connect.

Photographs of youthful, bright eyed young women bringing out chart-topping novels are everywhere, and although thrilled for them – and I truly am - I cannot help a stir of envy of the many years they have ahead of them to write, inspire and be inspired as their careers and reputation grows.

Or maybe it was meant to take this long to find out these things, that I’m simply a [very] late developer? In which case – regret is pointless.





Scheduled for release Summer 2018

Grace McKinnon’s widowhood promises little but a life of drudgery under her father-in-law’s oppressive rule. When quiet rebellion turns to opportunity, she books passage on an Atlantic steamer only to face near disaster in Halifax Harbour.....




Anita's Contacts
BLOG: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.co.uk  

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/anita.davison     TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

Thursday, 23 November 2017

REVIEW-The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan

FAITH HOGAN'S LATEST NOVEL 

RELEASED ON DECEMBER 1ST





PUBLISHER’S BLURB

A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn't be more different.
Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.
By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.
It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.

REVIEW 

Set in present day Dublin, this story is about Amanda, a middle-aged woman who thought she had everything she ever wanted, apart from Tess Cuff, the elderly sitting tenant in her basement who is the bane of her – well not hers, but her husband’s life.  Both women realise they have lost their identity somewhere along the line. But how do they change things? Is it too late and is there still a way to live the lives they always dreamed of? Or maybe just take a different path?

Amanda is dominated by her selfish, ambitious husband and two spoiled, entitled kids, who at the beginning of the story appear to have no respect for her. Tess is alone, but her life was very different at one time, making her wonder how and when it all went wrong.

Then Tess finds she isn’t as indestructible as she thought, and Amanda discovers her husband is not the perfect spouse she imagined – rebellion is afoot!

The novel is told in the two viewpoints of Tess and Amanda, with flashbacks to the defining points in their two lives and the catalysts that bring them together as individuals with similar regrets.

An inspiring read with some lovely emotions and deep insight into the truth that life is never what we expect it to be, even with all the right ingredients. I loved the growing friendship between these two quite different women which had a very satisfying ending.

Faith's Website

The Girl I used to Know is scheduled for release by Aria Fiction on 1st December 2017

Thursday, 16 November 2017

REVIEW-Servant of the Crown Mysteries by Denise Domning



SEASON OF THE RAVEN

It’s 1194 and Sir Faucon de Ramis, the shire’s newly appointed Keeper of the Pleas, must do his duty and make an official declaration of the cause of a miller’s death. Saddled with a clerk who names Faucon his ‘penance', the shire’s first Crowner must thread the tangled relationships between the sheriff, the village of Priors Holston and the priory that once ruled it. As a simple task takes a turn to the political, what seems obvious isn’t and what appears safe turns out to be more dangerous than he could imagine.

SEASON OF THE FOX

A wealthy merchant has been murdered in his own home, and the suspect has fled to sanctuary in a local church. Enter Sir Faucon de Ramis, the king’s new Servant of the Crown in the shire, to solve the murder, assisted by his prickly secretary, Brother Edmund. 
As Faucon begins his hunt, the shire’s new Crowner finds himself in the upside-down world of a woman’s trade. Not only does the merchant’s wife own the business—unheard of!—the suspect is the daughter’s betrothed, or so the town believes. But what about the bloody shoe prints and missing tally sticks, and what does the sheriff have to gain?

LOST INNOCENTS

A leper’s daughter is found in the well of a dying hamlet and the only suspect has fled into Feckenham Forest. But the sun is setting and Warwickshire’s sheriff is hunting his new Crowner. That sends Sir Faucon de Ramis and Brother Edmund, his prickly clerk, racing for a nearby abbey only to meet the man he least wishes to see at the abbey gates. Before long, Faucon finds himself riding into the dark at Sir Alain's side as they hunt for yet another lost innocent. 

REVIEW

As a writer of historical mysteries I recently discovered these three novels and was instantly engaged with the unique author voice and style of writing. The research is impeccable, well apart from King Richard being referred to as His Majesty, which was not used until much later, but that’s a minor criticism as the author weaves historical details, descriptions and points of medieval law into the narrative beautifully.

The Norman's rule the unruly English and King Richard needs all the money he can wrest from his people in order to pay for his crusades. King’s Crowners are enlisted as an alternative to the sometimes corrupt sheriffs to investigate murder and unnatural death, but primarily to charge appropriate fines to wrongdoers. 

Faucon de Ramis, a young ex-soldier looking for a purpose is nominated by his wealthy uncle into the post or Coronari – Keeper of The Pleas – a post similar to that of a coroner who examines the bodies and determines cause of death. However our hero is quickly drawn in to the villagers lives and sets out to find the killers too – with some help from a supercilious monk called Edmund whose adherence to protocol is frustrating but essential.

Pery might be reluctant but the post gives him a home and an income, so he throws himself into it with commitment and a keen intelligence. He has the ability to relate to anyone no matter their rank, and England in the Twelfth Century was all about rank and the church.

The first killing is of a miller, then a weaver and finally the daughter of a leper. Each one is handled sensitively and with fascinating historical detail. 

I was fascinated by the law that said the wheel that ended a man’s life must be instilled with sin [deodand] as is therefore forfeited to God and had to be given to the church: an act which would ruin the miller’s successor as without a wheel he could not grind the grain. I looked up this English common law of the 11th century which was not abolished until 1846.

I especially enjoyed the story of the murdered linsman, whose comfortable lifestyle was provided by craftsmen and women who made garments and embroidered ribbons and trimmings for the wealthy in a sort of early production line. 

The original killing which opens the first book and carried through all three stories is left open at the end as a tantalising carrot for the next book. I hope I can read that one soon as I loved these stories and will look forward to reading more from this author.

Denise's Amazon Author Page
Denise's Website



Monday, 16 October 2017

Review of The Murderess by Jennifer Wells



PUBLISHER’S BLURB

The Murderess is a heart-stopping story of family, love, passion and betrayal set against the backdrop of war-ravaged Britain. Perfect for fans of Lesley Pearse and Dilly Court.
1931: Fifteen year old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse.

1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown.

With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.

REVIEW 

I enjoyed Ms Wells ‘The Liar’ and this book was just as well written, also intriguing in that at first, I couldn’t tell where the story was going.. The author left me guessing as to which character I was supposed to feel empathy with. The betrayed Millicent whose only wish was to bear her husband’s child, Kate, who had been lied to for so long that when the secrets started to unravel, as they always do, was left to make sense of it all.

Or was Rosalie the one who deserved pity, the one who betrayed and was eventually betrayed? Halfway through the story I had a sense of inevitability which even though it played out, did not detract from the impact of the story.


Ms Wells certainly has a knack for portraying women whose obsession for motherhood changes their personalities and in some cases is used as justification for the things they do.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Flora No 4 Coming Soon


No 4 in the Flora Maguire Mysteries
Scheduled for release on 1st November
from Aria Fiction


The Flora Maguire Mystery Series 

Flora Maguire was raised by , Riordan Maguire, the head butler on the country estate of Earl Trent on the edge of the Cotswold countryside where she shared an attic apartment with her father at night and the schoolroom with the daughters of the house during the day. 

Questions have always surrounded her mother’s death, whom Flora lost at the age of six. Vague memories return in disturbing dreams which have always haunted her, but Lily Maguire’s fate remains a mystery.

At eighteen, Flora became governess to the youngest child, Edward, where her status as neither family nor servant in the household taught her to be both discreet and observant in a Victorian atmosphere of secrets and half-truths.

Flora’s story begins in New York after a family wedding when she is charged with escorting Edward home to England on a transatlantic steamship. When a body is discovered on deck, Flora has questions for both the ship’s doctor and crew appear unwilling, or unable to answer.  
Enlisting the help of a charming young man on board called Bunny Harrington, Flora’s instincts are proved correct when a killer is revealed. 

Book 2 contains the revelation of family secrets during a personal tragedy which change Flora’s perception of herself forever, while in Book 3, her marriage to Bunny gives her more freedom to seek out murderers. 
In the 4th Book in the series, Flora and Bunny’s pursuit of wrongdoers take them into the darker sides of life, where a chance encounter during a case of child trafficking sends Flora on a personal quest to discover what really happened to her mother.


US Version

Kindle   -    Kobo   -   Google Play   -   I Books   

UK: http://amzn.to/2xQRHjX 
US: http://amzn.to/2y3N8lc

Monday, 19 June 2017

Cover Reveal

Aria Fiction have designed a beautiful new cover for the fourth book in the 
Flora Maguire Mysteries.


This new adventure takes Flora into the south of the city of London, where she and Bunny are invited to a charity hospital for children as prospective patrons. During their visit, a nurse is found dead in the grounds, raising questions as to whether she was killed accidentally in a botched robbery, or was she murdered? It s not long before Flora discovers that several children have mysteriously disappeared after leaving the hospital, though no one appears overly concerned as they have not been reported missing.

Flora and Bunny set out to discover the whereabouts of the children, but time is of the essence. If the trail goes cold, Flora feels they might never be seen again.

Scheduled for release in November 2017 from Aria Fiction

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Flora Maguire Mysteries Locations

I am often asked if I use actual locations for my Flora Maguire Mysteries, and the answer is - definitely.  As an historical fiction writer I always try to place my stories in places which exist and try to create the nostalgia for a past time.


FLORA'S SECRET

Stateroom on the SS Minneapolis

The first story was set on an actual steamship called the SS Minneapolis which left New York on a sort of test run with under a hundred passengers before the actual maiden voyage which left from London a few weeks later. The ship was a min-Titanic, but according to the promotional material of the times was just as luxurious, with a glass roofed dining room, electric lighting, and one of the first ships to carry wireless telegraphy.
BETRAYAL AT CLEEVE ABBEY

Pittville Gates, Then and Now

Although the family Flora worked for lived in a real place, I invented the actual house they lived in. However the setting of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in the summer of 1902 when the town was celebrating the coronation of King Edward VII, was as authentic as I could make it. Flora travels by tram past the gates to the park which then charged a penny entry. She also seeks advice from a building that is now a wine bar, but was once a pharmacy.

A KNIGHTSBRIDGE SCANDAL

The Grenadier Public House, Old Barrack Yard, Knightsbridge

In No 3, Flora investigates a murder where the body of a young woman is discovered outside a public house. I went exploring and found the perfect location at the end of an alley called Old Barrack Yard off Knightsbridge. The Grenadier,  built in 1720 was known as the Duke of Wellington's Officers Mess and was frequented by King George IV.  It also houses a famous ghost called 'Cedric' which I couldn't resist including ion the story. [Click on the picture for their website]

THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN
[Scheduled for Release November 2017]

The locations below are included in the upcoming mystery story scheduled for release in November - but I leave these as a taster of what is to come.

The Evelina Children's Hospital


The Tower Subway

Thursday, 27 April 2017

REVIEW-The Second Chance Teashop by Fay Keenan

Fellow Aria author, Fay Keenan has brought out her debut novel, perfect to pack in your suitcase for your summer holiday


Publisher's Blurb

Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it's time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.

But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.

This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.

Review

An easy to read story where the main character, Anna, is getting over a sad loss but appears to have got her life sorted out and onto a new path to success – she has even met a handsome new man. I thought I knew where the story was going, however as it progressed there was a great deal more to the storyline which made it unputdownable.

This is the perfect light-hearted romance designed for a sunny day on a lounger with a cool drink, or   read curled up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate. A surprisingly well crafted debut novel, which tells me there will be more to look forward to from this author. The prose flows beautifully and the portrait of the village of Little Somerby, its characters and the celebration of blessing the apple trees is brilliantly authentic.

Anna and Matthew have a shaky start to their relationship, but instead of the misunderstanding/split scenario, what follows is a charming love story which takes a few bends and bumps but is always interesting and turns which keep you engaged throughout. I was delighted to see a sequel is in the mix and look forward to re-visiting this setting, in the hope of reading more about Anna, Matthew, Meredith and Ellie.


Fay's Website
Twitter @faykeenan

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.