The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Interview with Rachel Brimble

I’m delighted to welcome a great writer, and my good friend, Rachel Brimble to my blog today.

Why not grab a cuppa and a slice of cake, and join us for a chat?

What inspired you to write your book?

It feels like forever since I’ve wanted to write a book against the backdrop of women’s suffrage, but the character I needed to drive the story continued to elude me. Then, during the writing of THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S (book 1 in the series), a secondary character pushed herself forward. Very soon I knew Esther Stanbury was the woman I’d been waiting for and she quickly became the heroine for book 2, A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I read a LOT of books on women’s suffrage, social and expectation of women in the early 20th century and also looked anywhere and everywhere for real-life women who made profound changes at the time. It wasn’t long before I discovered some amazing stories and, after attending several talks on the fight for the Vote, I was pumped up and ready to create a heroine I hoped readers would find as inspiring as they will entertaining.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

My preferred POV is third person and allowing the hero and heroine alternating scenes. As a reader, I like to be able to read characters as though I’m watching them – third person POV gives the freedom to consider so much more than first person when you are completely embedded in one character’s mind. With third person, the author can give a wider view of what is going on around the character as well as within.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I am most definitely a plotter. I usually start each book with a setting and an issue I want to explore. Then I use character sketches to create my hero, heroine and villain (if I have one) and uncover their goals, motivations and conflicts. I then write a short paragraph for each chapter which leads me to write a rough 3-4 page synopsis.

Then comes the first draft, which I write from beginning to end without looking back – the hard part comes in the following drafts!

What excites you the most about your book?

The series theme is ‘female empowerment’ which is something that endlessly excites me! I love seeing women grow and push themselves forward; making a difference in their own lives and others’ lives. In A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S, I have created a cast of women fighting to make a difference that will impact women for generations. It must have been an exciting, empowering time, but also a challenge with consequences that could prove dangerous, if not fatal. If putting yourself on the line in the name of change isn’t empowerment, I don’t know what is…

Blurb 

A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S – out Feb 5th. Preorder today!

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Extract

Esther’s heart skipped a beat as Lawrence Culford crossed the street towards her, his gaze on hers, seemingly oblivious to the passing horse and carriage that separated them for a brief second. He was alone. No children to act as a barrier or distraction should he look at her for too long with his deep blue eyes.

Eyes that were maddeningly memorable.

She swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat. What was he doing here? Could he be looking for her? The sentiment sent a shiver through her which she wasn’t certain derived from pleasure or alarm.

Turning to the window, she quickly feigned intense interest in her notes, hating the slight tremor in her pencil.

‘Miss Stanbury?’

She briefly closed her eyes against the warming effect of his deep, rich voice before turning, her smile in place. This man should not have such control of her faculties.

She turned. ‘Mr Culford. No children today?’

‘Alas, Nathanial is taking a trip to the park with his nanny, and Rose is at school.’

‘So, you find yourself in town. Might I ask, for business or pleasure?’

‘Business. I’m a hotelier.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘You know?’

Heat pinched her cheeks for so willingly admitting she’d learned more about him than he’d previously offered. ‘Yes, Elizabeth… Miss Pennington knew of you when she saw you the other day.’

He drew his gaze over her hair and face. ‘I see.’

‘Yes. I’ll leave you to carry on. I’m sure you’re just as busy as I am.’

But Mr Culford continued unperturbed. ‘Did you grow up in the city?’ he asked.

A little taken aback that he’d so quickly moved to the personal, Esther hesitated but conceded answering his question could do no harm. ‘No. I grew up in the Cotswolds but moved here about two years ago.’

‘Then that’s another thing we have in common.’

She frowned. ‘Another? I wasn’t aware there was a first.’

His eyes gleamed with that infernal spark of amusement. ‘But, of course.’

Pulling back her shoulders, Esther regarded him with suspicion. ‘Which is?’

‘The Cause, of course.’

She exhaled. ‘Oh, yes. Of course. You never told me your role in the fight. Are you a campaigner?’

‘More of a supporter. I help as and when I can.’

‘I see.’ Although a little disappointed he didn’t play a more active role, Esther nodded, pleased he was at least on the women’s side. ‘Well, we could most definitely use more men behind us.’ She glanced towards Pennington’s doors. ‘I’m afraid I really must get back to work, Mr Culford.’ She stepped back. ‘If you’ll excuse me…’

As she turned, he gently clutched her elbow. ‘Miss Stanbury, I…’

Her heart raced at the contact and when she looked into his eyes, she saw what could only be described as over-interest. What did he want with her? Worse, why was he having such an alien effect on her? No one had ever made her feel such confusion or interest.

She eased her arm from his grasp, the indecision in his gaze rousing her self-protection. ‘Why are you here?’

‘That is a question I am scrambling to answer myself. In all honesty, I don’t know, but I do know it feels right to be here. Talking. With you.’

Time stood still as their gazes locked and Esther’s body heated under the sudden sombreness of his gaze. He smiled so often, his eyes lighting with amusement and humour, yet both had now disappeared as he considered her.

And, in that moment, she had no idea which of the two sides of him she preferred.

***

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/d/aMjIi3K

Amazon US: http://a.co/d/dAhCQiZ

Barnes & Noble:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/a-rebel-at-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_A_Rebel_at_Pennington_s?id=r5RtDwAAQBAJ

Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018 with book two coming February 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers from all over the world.

Links

Website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

Newsletter: https://us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ab0dc0484a3855f2bc769984f&id=bd3173973a

Blog: https://rachelbrimble.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelBrimble?lang=en

***

Great interview! Thanks for stopping by Rachel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

 


Opening Lines: Light From Other Windows by Chris Chalmers

Opening Lines time is here! This week Chris Chalmers is with me to share the first 500 words of his novel, Light From Other Windows.

Light From Other Windows — Blurb

How many secrets can a family hide?

19-year-old Josh Maitland is at the end of a gap-year trip round the world when the tsunami hits the Canary Islands. His family are devastated at the loss of someone they thought would outlive them all: mother Diana, advertising executive and shatterer of glass ceilings; older siblings Rachel and Jem, each contemplating a serious relationship after years of sidestepped commitment; and stepfather Colin, no stranger to loss, who finds himself frozen out by his wife’s grief.

Only with the discovery of the private blog Josh was writing for his friends does the significance of his travels become clear. It reveals secrets he knew about everyone in his family — and one about himself that will change the way they think of him forever.

Can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next.” SUZI FEAY, literary journalist

“Once again Chris Chalmers combines sensitivity and wit in his observation of human behaviour with a cracking storyline. Unputdownable.” PENNY HANCOCK, bestselling author of Tideline

You can choose your friends but…

How I was inspired to write Light From Other Windows — by Chris Chalmers

In every novel I’ve written, there’s been someone or something I can point to and say ‘Yep — that’s me!’ In the case Light From Other Windows, it’s not a character so much as a position within the family.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Maitland is the youngest child of three by a good decade. His older brother and sister feel more like secondary parents than siblings — and that was certainly the case when I was growing up. I was always “the little one”, which was nice in a way when I was very young; when I was eight or nine, my big sister was earning a living and kind enough to give me pocket money. And since she and my brother had long since left home I was ostensibly an only child, with all the advantages of full parental attention that can bring.

The trouble is, roles within the family have a habit of sticking. In my case until I was in my thirties, with a successful career and home of my own, when I realised my siblings still saw me just as they always had. It wasn’t malicious. Far from it, they’re both lovely people. But it took a flashpoint to end it; an argument in which the worm turned and told them he’d had enough of being treated like a man-child. My brother and sister were very contrite. In their defence, I don’t think either of them knew they had been doing it.

So that’s the dynamic I was working with in this book. The events are fiction. Unlike Josh, I didn’t go on a gap-year trip round the world, and mercifully I’ve never been caught in a tsunami. But the subtle way the members of the Maitland family perceive each other is very much based on personal experience.

Accidents of birth have a lot to answer for — and so do accidents of promotion (excuse the clunky segue). Light From Other Windows has been out for a while, but with the support of Amazon and its inscrutable algorithms, it has found a very healthy readership. If it’s new to you and you’d like to know more, here are the first 500 words:

 

First 500 words…

PROLOGUE

Funny. The bedroom still had his smell.

She paused in the doorway. The room was bathed in a milky January light; utterly lifeless, like someone had pulled the plug. It was never this quiet when he was here. The little blue chest of drawers was on the desk, just like he said. She left the door ajar and kept to the rug, avoiding the bare boards.

A wad of papers was tucked inside the bottom drawer, and as she yanked it out the drawer came with it. She pushed it back as she unfurled the papers. Licking her thumb, she flicked through for the right one… Ripped-out page from a glossy mag — something about the next iPad… Three old greetings cards (— one from her, ah!)… Flier for some club they’d never been to –  And something else, creased into quarters…

One glimpse of the lion-and-unicorn crest in the corner was enough.

Gotcha!  

She folded up the birth certificate, tucked it into the waistband of her skirt and slipped the rest back in the drawer. As she turned, his posters stared back at her from the wall. A couple of them — more of those god-awful rappers — were new, but some of those rugby pics had been there since they were twelve or thirteen. Mad…

Mad, but typical. He didn’t care! Even his ancient teddy was still there, wedged between the wardrobe and the wall, one paw sticking out like it was hitching a ride from the Teletubbies. When was he going to get rid of —

Laughter! Seeping up from downstairs. Four strides and she was back on the landing. A quick peep over the banister —

All clear. She nipped into the bathroom and flushed.

The casement window on the turn in the stairs sparked a memory: a circular rainbow. She could see the bracelet of sherbet sweets looped over the latch so clearly she could still taste its plasticky fizz… They’d been playing Treasure Hunt at one of his birthday does, his big bro and sis roped in to organise party games and hating it…

The house was shabbier back then.

As she reached the bottom stair, she slid the paper out of hiding and into the pocket of her jacket hooked over the banister. Her hand was on the kitchen door as she checked her watch.

Best not hang around too long. She just had time for a cup of tea if she was going to catch the Post Office.                                                       

CHAPTER ONE

“And finally –” said Diana Maitland, “Brad and Dan?”

Johnnie Grange, her deputy in the advertising agency’s Creative Department, was lounging with his bony knees splayed in a chair on the other side of her desk. The tongue of his ever-present raffia belt dangled tumescently.

“Doing enough to get by, I guess,” he said. “Though that last viral for Nissan kicked the budget into touch…”

Diana looked up from her list. Her ash-blonde bob and Moschino jacket suggested the kindlier judge on a reality show…

Chris Chalmers lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries, and swum with iguanas. Aside from his novels, his proudest achievement in writing is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at www.chrischalmers.net

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Other-Windows-Chris-Chalmers-ebook/dp/B013GNUDD6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 

***

Many thanks Chris.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Suzi Stembridge.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: Full Circle by Regina Timothy

Opening Lines time is here!

This week I’m delighted to welcome Regina Timothy to my blog with the first 500 words of her contemporary novel, Full Circle.

Blurb

Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Samia-Al-Sayyid an Iraqi immigrant is living a quiet life in New York City after she fled her home to avoid imminent death.

She works hard for her cold, heartless, high-strung boss, loves her seventeen-years-old-son, and cherishes the close friendship she has formed with her best friend Susan.

Nothing can go wrong, or so she thinks – until the estranged brother she left back in Iraqi shows up on her door step. Then she finds herself in a cab, on her way to the hospital to identify her son, a terror suspect who has blown the city, and with it her boss’ husband, and her best friend’s son. With everything lost, she is forced to flee to Iraq where she confronts her past. Will she make peace with her past? Can she get forgiveness for all the damage she has caused?

Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us.

Here are the first 500 words (exactly)

15th November 2001

Three months had passed. Three months since Samia received her last paycheck. Three months since the attack that robbed her of the little haven she had created for herself and her ten-year-old son, Aazim. Three months since she stood in her old employer’s study and with horror saw the twin towers crumble into nothing, and with them Mercy’s only daughter Carol.

She could picture that day in her mind like it was yesterday. Tuesday, 11th September 2001. It had been a beautiful sunny morning when Samia rode the elevator to the sixth floor of her employer’s apartment building in Greenwich Village on 42 West 9th Street.

But all that changed the minute she stepped into Mercy’s home office and found her pacing up and down the floor, phone in hand. “Carol, Carol can you hear me?” she yelled over the phone. She glanced at Samia as she placed the coffeepot on the table and motioned her to stay. She covered the mouthpiece with her hand and whispered, “Something’s happened to Carol.”

“What?” Samia asked as her heartbeat quickening. Her eyes fell on a photo of Carol on Mercy’s desk. It was the same photo Samia had in her living room along with hers and Aazim’s; a headshot taken in an open field on a windy day, her wheat-colored hair mussed, and a gentle smile playing on her cherry lips as her sea blue eyes looked straight into the camera.

Samia turned to Mercy, who walked up to the phone base and put the call on speaker. Her heart thumped painfully in her chest, and she felt icy cold fear coursing through her veins.

“Baby, can you hear me?” Mercy’s voice crackled with emotion.

“Yeah,” Carol answered. She coughed and sputtered for a few minutes. “Something has happened, Mom; something is wrong.” Carol stammered. “I… I don’t know what, but there is rubble and dust everywhere. The ceiling above us fell in. I don’t know what is happening.”

“Stay calm, everything will be okay,” Mercy said as she paced in front of the large window overlooking the balcony opposite the desk. “Where are you now?”

“I’m in an office under a desk,” Carol responded before another bout of coughing took over.

“Are you hurt?”

“I… I don’t think so; let me check.” Silenced ensued before she came on again. “No, I’m not hurt.” They heard a groan and movement. “Help!” Carol shouted. “Somebody help me! Mom, I think someone’s out there. I’ll go see, hold on.”

“Okay, baby, just be careful,” Mercy replied. She stopped in front of the telephone listening to Carol shuffle things out of her way and crawl from under the desk. “Oh my God!” Carol exclaimed. Mercy stared at Samia, who stood frozen on the other side of the desk as they waited for Carol’s voice.

“Oh my God!” They heard Carol’s voice again.

“What’s wrong?” Mercy froze.

“It’s horrible, it’s just… I think I saw a person’s hand. And there is a gaping hole in…

***

You can buy Full Circle from all good retailers, including- http://amzn.to/2EdNl5L

Bio

Regina lives in a picturesque village in Kenya where she enjoys amazing landscapes, exotic wildlife, and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. She always had active imagination. By chance, she started blogging in 2010, which rekindled her love for writing and telling stories. When not writing she enjoys watching classic movies (she’s a movie buff), going to the theater and auto shows.

You can join her on the following platforms:

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17539626.Regina_Timothy

Librarythings – https://www.librarything.com/profile/Regina-Timothy

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gina_wann

Blog – http://reginatimothy.wordpress.com 

***

Thanks for your great opener Regina.

Don’t forget to come back next week for some words from Chris Chalmers.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


8 Reasons to go on an Imagine writing retreat

After the wonderful success of our trip to Northmoor House last October, Alison Knight and I are proud to open the booking for Imagine’s second writing retreat…

8 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1. Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2. Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (Don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3. With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4. On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5. However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6. Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

7. Meet celebrated novelist Kate Lord Brown! Kate will be our guest speaker on the Tuesday evening.

8. Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus help on tap, a chance to meet Kate Lord Brown, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £550 (£50 less if you book before 28th February) is a BARGAIN.

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

 

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS ON 28th FEB 2019

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: The Vanished Bride of Northfield House

The first Opening Lines blog of 2019 belongs to Phyllis Newman. She is introducing us to the New Year in fine Gothic style. Over to you Phyills…

Thank you, Jenny, for the opportunity to participate in this series.

Have you ever re-read a favorite novel from your youth? As a teenager, I was entranced with the mystery, the romance, and the shocking climax of a certain gothic novel. It was a delicious read!

When a blogger I follow mentioned that it was her favorite book as well, I decided to re-read it. I went on Amazon and found a copy available at a Catholic church library in California for $1.67. What a deal! It cost more to mail it across the country.

I waited with great anticipation until it arrived.

That night, I propped myself up in bed with a cup of cocoa, a scented candle, and began reading. What a disappointment. It was over-written, pedestrian, and a little boring. I was startled by how much my tastes had changed.

But it also motivated me to hunt for an honest to goodness creepy, Gothic ghost story recreating the suspense and wonder that the book from my youth had originally elicited. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate one that really grabbed me (so to speak).

So, I decided to write one!

Enter The Vanished Bride of Northfield House. It is a creepy supernatural gothic tale with a spirited heroine, intriguing mystery, engaging romance, and an actual ghost (because there’s nothing like a good haunting!) The story is a mix of mystery and romance with touches of otherworldly spookiness. A gothic horror story that unfolds as all good gothic mysteries do … bit-by-bit … death-by-death …

Blurb:  

England, 1922. Times are hard. Anne Chatham is a clever, modest young woman with little money, no prospects for marriage, and a never-shared secret—she can see spirits.

Anne finds employment as a typist at Northfield House, the grand country manor of the Wellington family. Her employer, the wheelchair-bound Mr. Wellington, is kindly. His haughty wife is not. He has two handsome sons, the wry and dashing Thomas and the dark and somber Owen.

Anne feels sure her prayers have been heard. Until the terrifying night she stumbles upon a tortured spirit roaming the dark halls of Northfield, a spirit that only she can see. In a search for answers, she finds herself drawn to Owen as they unearth a tragic story from the Wellington family’s past—a beautiful young bride who vanished on her wedding day.

Then tragedy strikes again on the night of a glittering masquerade ball…

500 words:

CHAPTER 1

The ghost was my first memory of Northfield House.

After taking my coat, a servant ushered me into a small room overlooking the east lawn, where the hushed quiet and dim light narrowed the breach between the living and the dead.

In the far corner, a pale blue presence flickered like a flame.

I sat in a high-backed chair, planted my sturdy shoes on the floor, and repositioned my sensible hat. Accustomed to encountering spirits, I focused upon my surroundings—the broad polished desk, the high shelves of books, the clutter of papers, pens, and bottles of ink. The blue glow hovered in the periphery, as specters inhabit the edges of human vision. When looked at directly, they evaporate like mist in the morning sun.

Although such entities had made themselves known to me many times before, I was nonetheless unnerved. My heart thudded, and I felt the urge to flee. But it wasn’t fear that inspired this sting of anxiety, this damp, fevered spell of agitation.

Rather, I fought against the worry that I was something other than a young, modern British woman. I did not doubt my supernatural perception, but dreaded what it might reveal about me. Was I blessed or was I cursed? Would Father have said this was evidence of evil? Would Mother have called upon the angels to protect me?

After saying a little prayer, I swallowed with difficulty and wondered how long I’d been waiting. I consulted the watch pinned to my bodice. Thirteen minutes past three.

In my trembling hand, I grasped a Liverpool broadsheet, folded to reveal the advert regarding a professional position to which I’d responded weeks ago. It was the possibility of employment that brought me to this elegant estate in northwest England, many miles from home. On the same page was a report about next month’s 1922 Women’s Olympic Games in Paris and details about the German government’s failure to pay war reparations as required by the Treaty of Versailles. I began reading, which momentarily distracted me from the glimmering presence in the corner.

The door swung open without ceremony, making me jump, and admitted an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair.

The blue spirit curled like smoke and disappeared.

A chill danced down my spine despite the warmth of late July.

I stood.

“Good afternoon,” he said. “Forgive me for not rising.” His gruff voice did not convey apology. He wheeled himself behind the desk. “Please. Sit.”

He consulted a document on his desk, his gaze drifting over it. “You are Miss Chatham. Anne Chatham.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Might you be related to the Chathams of Birmingham? Railroads, I believe.”

“No, sir. I don’t think so.”

He didn’t introduce himself, but I gathered that I was in the company of the man I hoped would employ me—Henry Wellington. I tried to relax and accustom myself to his age and infirmity.

“How long have you been a typewriter, Miss Chatham?”

I moistened my dry mouth. “I’ve completed a full-year of…

***

Readers can find The Vanished Bride of Northfield House at Amazon.com/co.uk, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble

Buy links:

USA:   http://www.amazon.com/dp/1939403456

UK:  https://goo.gl/uU5QBC

Bio:

Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross Country, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, and “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, ghost watchers all.

You may contact/follow/like her at www.readphyllismnewman.com, or Facebook  https://facebook.com/ReadPhyllisMNewman/  or Twitter @phyllismnewman2

Readers can find The Vanished Bride of Northfield House at Amazon.com/co.uk, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble

Buy link:    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1939403456

British buy link:  https://goo.gl/uU5QBC

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 


Opening Lines: Ward Zero by Linda Huber

The final opening lines of 2018 is being looked after by suspense writer, Linda Huber.

Over to you Linda…

Writing Ward Zero… the dead ward

I enjoyed writing this book – as an ex-physiotherapist, I loved the hospital setting, modelling Brockburn General on one of the hospitals I worked in, back in the day. I could almost smell that special hospital odour as Sarah visited foster-mum Mim in orthopaedics, and the fustiness of the cellar as she lay there later on, bound and helpless, was equally present in my nose. Ward Zero brought back a lot of happy memories.
The best bit of all, though, was deciding on the cover image. The designer produced a fabulous image of a body, swathed in a white sheet and lying on a trolley. Perfect – but was this Sarah? It looked a bit masculine to me… So we began a hilarious back and forth of cover images, the body having a different bust measurement in each. Eventually, the one the designer christened ‘version supermodel’ was voted winner, and the cover – and the book – went to print.

Here are my first five hundred words:

Prologue

Thursday, 20th July

He stared across the table in the crowded restaurant and his mouth went dry. Sarah. She was so lovely, smiling at him with shiny blonde hair just tipping her shoulders, and her blouse an exact match for the blue of her eyes. And now he would have to kill her too. It was too much to bear.

He reached for his glass, fighting to keep the ‘I’m having the greatest time ever’ expression fixed on his face. But her last remark had confirmed it – she knew way too much. And he, idiot that he was, had just made a monumental mistake. Sarah was busy with her fritters; she hadn’t realised the significance of what he’d said. But she would, and the first thing she’d do was tell that bloody policeman. It was a risk he couldn’t take. Time to switch his emotions off.

He took a deep breath, forcing himself to smile back. All he had to do was keep her busy thinking about other things, and after dessert he would suggest a quick coffee at home. His home. Once he had her safely locked up he could organise her death in peace and quiet. It shouldn’t be too difficult – he’d already had a practice run.

When Sarah was gone too, he’d be safe.

If only he’d never gone to the hospital. He hadn’t wanted things to end like this, not for one minute.

Chapter One

Two weeks earlier: Tuesday, 4th July

Sarah stepped into the arrivals hall at Manchester Airport. What a brilliant feeling – back on British soil for her first long break in two years. And she was ready for it. Teaching in Switzerland and travelling round Europe in the holidays had been exhausting, if exciting. And now – where was Mim?

A glance round the waiting crowd failed to locate her foster mother’s strawberry-blonde head, and Sarah stood still. She hadn’t spoken to Mim since last week, but they’d texted yesterday. At least… Sarah frowned. She had texted her new flight time and Mim had replied with a smiley, which, when you thought about it, wasn’t typical. Mim had the gift of the gab even when she was texting.

‘There you are! Sorry I’m late – I had to park at the back of beyond.’

Sarah spun round to see a short, very pregnant figure beaming up at her, dark curls damp on her brow. ‘Rita! You’re huge! Come here!’

A lump came into her throat as she hugged the other woman, feeling the hardness of Rita’s bump against her own body. Lucky Rita.

Rita hugged back. ‘That’s pregnancy for you. Come on, let’s get out of this rabble.’

Sarah grabbed her case and turned towards the exit. ‘You’re on. But where’s Mim?’

She couldn’t imagine what could have kept Mim away from the airport when the two of them were supposed to be setting off on their long-anticipated tour of Yorkshire that very afternoon.

Rita took her free elbow. ‘Ah. Now don’t shoot the…

***

I’m sure you can guess the 501st word!

***

Ward Zero blurb:

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?
On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.

Bio:
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years being a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.

Linda’s writing career began in the nineties, and since then she’s had over fifty short stories and articles published, as well as seven psychological suspense novels. Her books are set in places she knows well – Cornwall (childhood holidays), The Isle of Arran (teenage summers), Yorkshire (visiting family), as well as Bedford and Manchester (visiting friends) and her home town, Glasgow. Her latest project is a series of feel-good novellas written under her pen name, Melinda Huber.

After spending large chunks of the current decade moving house, she has now settled in a beautiful flat on the banks of Lake Constance in north-east Switzerland, where she’s working on another suspense novel.

Linda Huber’s website:  www.lindahuber.net
Universal Amazon link: getBook.at/WardZero

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber/

***

Many thanks to Linda for seeing us out of 2018 in style!

See you next year!

Jenny x


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