Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Happy #Bastille Day #FrenchRevolution



Happy Bastille Day!
This Thursday, 14th July, France celebrates the storming of the Bastille on 14th July, 1789, an important event in Paris during the revolution that had begun two days beforehand. Celebrations are held all over the country, and it is a public holiday.


And the rural village at the foot of the Monts du Lyonnais in which I live will celebrate with a party, and fireworks to round everything off.


Storming of the Bastille

To celebrate this epic event, I'm running a limited time FREE offer of my novel, Spirit of Lost Angels, part of which takes place during the French Revolution.

Extract from Chapter 39 of Spirit of Lost Angels…

More and more people massed around the burning fortress, smoke flapping into the grim sky like a hero’s flag. Whole families streamed onto the streets. They brought their children, their dogs, to see the fiery spectacle.

I watched Aurore, caught up in the dancing, chanting revellers, and still I could not entice her away from that bloody, triumphant scene. I was about to leave on my own when I heard, amidst the din, a voice calling.

‘Come, Rubie.’

I spun around, wondering whoever was addressing me. My eyes scanned the knot of unfamiliar faces, but besides Aurore, I knew nobody. I heard the voice again. ‘Rubie.’

Whoever would be calling me? Still I recognised no one, then I glimpsed the face of a young girl wearing a scarlet dress, and my hand flew across my mouth.

She was some distance away, but I could make out the cinnamon-coloured curls. My own ten-year old face. I could have sworn too, she was wearing a necklace––a small angel carving perhaps, threaded onto a strip of leather. I felt giddy, and held Aurore’s arm to stop myself fainting.

The girl had turned from me and was vanishing into the crowd. I started pushing people aside, stepping on feet, shoving my way through the throng.

‘Rubie, Rubie, wait. Wait! Don’t leave me again!’ I thought I would burst with desire, with hope, and with the fear I wouldn’t reach her.

Like the river in a summer drought, the girl receded from me, further and further. Then she was gone.


Get your FREE copy of Spirit of Lost Angels here






Friday, 9 June 2017

#Australia #psychologicalsuspense novel #promo


For a week beginning today, Friday 9th June, The Silent Kookaburra, my psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, will be on a Kindle Countdown Deal promotion for only 99c/p.



Extract from The Silent Kookaburra Chapter 9...

‘Hey, Tanya, great to see you,’ he said in the dreamy ocean voice. He sat beside me on my rock, scratched Steely’s head and handed me another bag of Redskins and Milk Bottles.

‘Yum. Thanks, Uncle Blackie.’

We sat in silence while I munched through the Milk Bottles.

‘Did you know he’s the best camouflaged lizard?’ I said, pointing to a frilled-neck lizard the same colour as the rock on which it was sunning itself.

‘Oh yes, a master chameleon,’ Uncle Blackie said. ‘So, managing to keep your chin up at home, Tanya? I gather things’ve got pretty bad?’

I shrugged, my fingers flying to the cowlick. ‘Yeah, pretty bad what with … with everything.’


‘I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. I’m guessing you’re a strong girl who can cope with a lot, but just know I’m here if you need to talk about things.’

Uncle Blackie swiped at a fly buzzing around my leg. A hand slid down onto my knee, rough fingers rubbing at the scar. ‘What happened here?’

‘Banged into Mum’s Hill’s Hoist.’

‘That must’ve hurt.’

I shrugged again, my leg jerking away from his touch. ‘A bit.’

He cupped a hand under my chin and lifted my face to meet his dark gaze. ‘Your mum could’ve been a model,’ he said. ‘Just like you could be, Tanya.’

‘Me, a model? Oh yeah, sure.’

‘Yeah, sure,’ he said. ‘And you know what? After I met you up the bush track that first time, I had this idea.’

‘What idea?’

‘Have you thought about entering Miss Beach Girl 1973, Tanya?’

‘What’s Miss Beach Girl 1973?’

‘A beauty quest,’ Uncle Blackie said. ‘Early next year, the organisers will walk around Wollongong beaches picking out beautiful girls. The winner gets a trip to New York and a guaranteed six-month photographic modelling contract. So, the chance to become a famous model.’

‘Be cool to be a model but I’ve got Buckley’s Chance of that ever happening.’

‘Don’t be silly, you’ve got every chance in the world,’ Uncle Blackie said, and as he told me about the photographers who would photograph me in the latest-fashion clothes with jewellery and make-up that would make my eyes glitter like amber and emeralds, my cheeks grew hotter.

‘I could take some photos of you, Tanya, show you what it’s all about. If you want, that is, then you’d know exactly what it is to be a model. What do you say?’

‘Nah, everybody reckons I’ve got bat wings for ears. “Batgirl” they call me –– and I am fat. I know I am.’


‘You’ll slim down, don’t worry,’ he said. ‘Besides, those models aren’t as beautiful as they’re made out, you know, Tanya. It’s all camera angles and make believe. They’re quite plain in real life in fact. And I already told you, just wear your hair a different way and nobody will notice your ears. The same as your mum did when she was young.’

‘You’re really a photographer, Uncle Blackie?’

‘Yeah, I’m pretty good with a camera. So what do you say? No pressure, only if you want.’

‘Okay, if you really think I’ve got a chance at this beauty quest, why not?’
 ***

Buy The Silent Kookaburra for only 99c/p.

Australia's "not very silent" Kookaburra!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

#France #histfic novel 99c/p #KindlePromo

Spirit of Lost Angels, the first (standalone) novel in my French trilogy, The Bone Angel series, is on Kindle Countdown Promotion for only 99c/p on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk  until Saturday 27th May.

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her poor peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the ancien régime. Can she muster the bravery and skill to join the revolutionary force gripping France, and overthrow the corrupt, diabolical aristocracy?

Spirit of Lost Angels traces the journey of an angel talisman passed down through generations. The women of The Bone Angel series face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse. Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, this is a story of courage, hope and love.

Extract from Chapter 1...


Maman lit a candle and handed around bits of cloth for us to dry off. Papa pushed the sheep behind the partition, with the chickens.
My father’s brow creased as he rushed outside, and back in again.
‘Mathilde, the oak’s on fire!’ he shouted at my mother. ‘The lightning must have struck it.’ His eyes grew as wild as the madwoman who lived in the woods––the witch they forbade us to approach.
‘We’ll get water from the river to put it out?’ Grégoire said.
‘Not a chance, my son,’ Papa said. ‘The flames have taken hold. We can only pray to God the fire dies out on its own.’
Maman gripped my father’s arm. ‘Let us all pray then, Emile.’
Our heads bent, we huddled together in silence. I knew fire was the most frightening thing of all; worse than the sickness that ate your face away, or the one that made you cough blood. Lightning fires had destroyed whole villages.
Outside, the trees moaned as the wind whistled through the woods, but the rain had slowed. The twins were bored with the praying and scampered over to pet the sheep.
My father frowned, and stroked his chin; my mother fiddled with her cap.
Wood cracked, and splintered. Maman and Papa glanced at each other.



Jeanne de Valois (infamous conwoman)
 ‘Leave the sheep, Félicité, Félix,’ Maman said. ‘Come here to me.’ I could tell she was worried but my little brother and sister didn’t listen to her, and kept tugging on the wool.
A great roar and a rush of air made my ears pop, as the oak tree crashed through the roof, right on top of the sheep and chickens.
Maman screamed and threw herself at the fallen tree.
‘Run, children, go!’ Papa said.
Through the noise and the mess, I tried to reach my mother. ‘Maman, Maman!’
I wanted to hold her hand but Papa was pushing me away. ‘Go!’ he said. ‘Go, now!’
Terrified, I stumbled outside with Grégoire. Flames spurted from the roof like great orange fingers reaching for the sky, and inside, my father was still shouting at Maman.
‘Mathilde, we must get out now!’
Papa staggered from the burning cottage, dragging Maman behind him. My mother’s head whipped around as she pulled against him.
‘No, let me go. The twins!’ She dug her nails into Papa’s arm. ‘My babies … must … save my babies!’
Papa pushed her to me but Maman was heavy, and we both fell to the ground. My father ran back inside. Grégoire was brave too, tearing in after Papa, even though smoke was puffing out of the doorway, and from the hole in the roof.
‘No, Grégoire, come back.’ Maman’s voice was faint against the whooshing flames. ‘Emile, are you all right? Have you got the twins?’ she kept saying.
The villagers came running down the slope, shrieking against the noise of the fire––all talking at once so I couldn’t understand what any one of them was saying.
‘… fire start … lightning?’
‘Is everyone out …?’
‘Quick, get water … river!’
‘The will of God … a terrible thing.’
I covered my ears, Père Joffroy’s voice roaring inside my head. ‘Water and fire––embrace those symbols of purification!’
I did not understand how we could embrace a thing that was destroying our home.

Marie Antoinette
Papa and Grégoire staggered outside, clutching their throats and gasping. My father lurched towards Maman, tears rolling down his face. I had never seen him cry, and it frightened me.
Papa was shaking his head and falling into Maman’s arms, but she couldn’t hold him up and he collapsed on the ground.
The rain stopped. The storm was over, but it was hot, so burning hot that the villagers had to drag Papa further and further from the dragon fire that was feasting on our home.
Very quickly, there was nothing left, only the fireplace standing in a mess of black wood, stones and branches. The ground was a carpet of twigs, leaves and small birds, their necks bent, their eyes wide open.
I took my mother’s hand. It was floppy and cold.
‘Where’s Félicité? And Félix?’
Maman did not answer me, and her fingers closed around the talisman she wore on a strip of leather around her neck––a little bone angel carving. 


Storming of the Bastille


Ebook only 99c/p  until 27th May.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

#FrenchRevolution novel #kindlepromo only 99c

Until this Friday, April 7th, Spirit of Lost Angels, the first (standalone) novel in my French trilogy, The Bone Angel series, is on promo for only 99c on Amazon.

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her poor peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the ancien régime. Can she muster the bravery and skill to join the revolutionary force gripping France, and overthrow the corrupt, diabolical aristocracy?

Spirit of Lost Angels traces the journey of an angel talisman passed down through generations. The women of The Bone Angel series face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse. Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, this is a story of courage, hope and love.

Extract From Chapter 20...

How odd it was to be still after what seemed like weeks of bumps and jolts. Or was it months, perhaps years, I’d been cramped inside that windowless carriage with so many people and their smells of sweat and sickness?
The coach door creaked open, the bright sky burning my eyes. Hot bits of fire danced in mid-air but I was cold, and shivered beneath my cloak. I reeled from the orange sparks. A man grabbed my arm, his fingers digging into my skin, pinching my flesh.
‘Must get away … get outside. Papa says get out, now! Fire’s burning. The twins … inside.’ I tried to pull away from him, from the flames.
The man sneered. ‘Scared of a few autumn leaves, my lovely?’
‘Leaves?’ Ah yes, I saw then, they were leaves––autumn leaves rocking in the breeze and fluttering to the ground, where they lay still amongst the browned, dead ones. 

The women of Paris march to Versailles
My hands were smarting. I looked down and saw my palms were grazed and bleeding. Perhaps it had been me, not the leaves, falling to the cobbles as I’d tried to flee the man restraining me.
He dragged me upright and pushed me ahead of him, towards a cluster of dark buildings. The closer we got, the stronger the stench of piss, shit and unwashed bodies flared my nostrils.
‘Where am I? Where are you taking me?’ My words came out in hoarse, sharp whispers. ‘Where’s Grégoire? Find Léon, he’ll know what to do.’
‘Welcome to paradise, my lovely.’ The man’s breath was foul on my cheek.
He pushed me down into a chair. Why was he binding my limbs to the chair legs? Something moved across my head. I glanced at the floor––at the spatter of cinnamon waves covering the grimy tiles. My head felt different. I shook it and found it light, unburdened.
I hadn’t the strength to struggle as the man removed my clothes and shoved me into a wooden tub, nor when he fastened something cold and heavy about my neck.
‘If you move a muscle, that iron ring will break your creamy neck,’ he said. I dared not move and I breathed so slightly I could barely inhale enough air. ‘Have a nice bath, my lovely.’
The shock of icy water hitting my face was so great I did not even cry out. It gushed into my eyes, my nose and my mouth. I tried to breathe, coughing and spluttering. The cold water came again, and again.
‘Stop, no! Please!’ Still the water hit me.
It stopped, the man unchained my neck and the next thing I knew, a woman was standing over me, holding a chemise and an ash-grey dress.

Storming of the Bastille

‘Put these on. Hurry, girl. Time to go and meet your fellow lunatics.’ She laughed, but I had no idea what was funny.
The man was back, and leading me across a deserted yard entombed in high walls. He hurried me down steps slick with moss, and nodded beyond the wall. ‘Shame your room got no river view. Nothing to remind you of home, n’est-ce pas, my lovely?’
I didn’t know what he meant but I flinched, as we’d reached a deep place where only the thinnest, grey rope of light penetrated. I quivered with the fear, the unknown. Where was the bright sky and those leaves the colour of fire? I was sure I would feel better; understand it all, if only I could get back to the sky and the leaves.
Cries began to beat against my eardrums––sounds so raw with despair I was certain I must be dead, and I had reached some vast hall of Hell.


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Ebook only 99c on Amazon.com until this Friday.
















Wednesday, 22 March 2017

#Australia-based #psychological suspense novel #promo

For a week beginning this Friday, 24th March, The Silent Kookaburra, my psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, will be on promotion for only 99c/p on a Kindle Countdown Deal.

 Extract from The Silent Kookaburra, Chapter 2...




We left Wollongong around five o’clock, Dad driving the Holden to the Royal National Park, which was halfway up to Sydney.

While my father wrangled with the tent pegs, amidst foraging currawongs and crimson rosellas, Mum and I kindled up a campfire and roasted the snags.

‘Look at him.’ I pointed to a large flat rock. Behind it, a shy wallaby peeked out at us, rubbing its forepaws together as if clapping at our show.

‘Aw, what a sweetie,’ Mum said, handing me a sausage sandwich smothered in tomato sauce.

A magpie swooped over us, clacking her bill. ‘Quardle, oodle, ardle, wardle, doodle.’

‘Defending her nest,’ Mum said as we toasted the marshmallows.

Dad smiled, gave her leg a pat. ‘Like all good mothers.’

And in the falling darkness of the coastal breeze we followed the scents of the night creatures: long-nosed bandicoots, brush-tailed possums, sugar gliders and many others whose names I didn’t know.

The shriek of a sulphur-crested cockatoo woke me on the Saturday morning. I struggled from my sleeping bag, stepped outside the tent, walked towards the smouldering campfire and almost trod on a snake. Its slimy scales gleamed in the pearly dawn light.

I almost peed myself, but held it in, not daring to cross my legs; afraid to budge an inch. A blob of sweat dribbled into my eye.

Australia's majestic Kookaburra
‘Dad, quick, snake!’

My father lurched from the tent as the black snake reared up, its thick underbelly a streak of fire. Head pointed, forked tongue out, it fixed one dark eye on me and hissed.

My throat seized up, crazy moths flapped about in my heart. I wanted to run, to scarper from the snake as fast as I could, but Dad was holding up a warning hand.

‘No quick movements, Tanya. Just wait, it’ll slither away if you don’t scare it.’

Tears pricked at my eyes. ‘No, no, it’s going to bite me … to kill me. Get rid of it, Dad!’

Mum clutched Dad’s arm, a hand flying to her cowlick. ‘Do something, Dobson … just stay very still, Tanya.’

My schoolteacher’s voice clanged through my mind. Blackies can be dangerous … can hurt you badly but they likely won’t kill you.

The red-bellied black snake sure looked deadly to me. My bladder was about to burst; my legs wobbled –– jelly left out of the fridge in a heatwave.

Go snake. Just please go away, please.


Buy The Silent Kookaburra.








Wednesday, 15 March 2017

#FrenchResistance During #WW2

The French Resistance was a movement that fought against the Nazi Occupation of France during WW2, and against the collaborationist Vichy régime. Armed men and woman (called the Maquis in rural areas such as portrayed in my novel, Wolfsangel) formed Resistance cells who carried out guerrilla warfare activities, published underground newspapers, gained intelligence information, and helped Allied soldiers escape from behind enemy lines.


Fake ID cards for Resistance fighters

Taking a break from the battle
 On this day, 15th March, in 1944, the Conseil National de la Resistance published a charter demanding that social and economic reforms be implemented after France’s liberation, such as universal suffrage and the equality of all citizens.

For Wolfsangel, the second (standalone) novel in my French historical trilogy: The Bone Angel, I was fortunate enough to speak with several French Resistance fighters still living in the area in which the novel is set, in a rural village just west of Lyon.

Extract from Wolfsangel, Chapter 2...

The helmets of the German soldiers perched atop the train gleamed in the moonlight. I stared at them with hatred, those sinister sentries cradling their guns, their eyes peeling the countryside for danger, and saboteurs.

I kneaded my angel talisman harder.

Dd-dd-dd-dd. Faster, it seemed, and deafening, as the train was almost upon us.

‘Go!’ Olivier shrieked. ‘Now! Get down!’

André hit the button and any further sounds were lost as the train exploded in a golden shatter of fireworks. Bursts of sparks fanned into the navy sky, metal shrieking as if it were in agony.

Our hands clamped over our ears, we cowered from shards of flying metal. The Germans were shrieking –– one continual, torturous wail –– their helmets and uniforms flaming torches as they tried to flee the burning wreckage.

The locomotive screamed like a shot horse and groaned as the whole train lurched sideways, cavorted off the rails and crashed into the ravine on the opposite side of the track.

‘Let’s move it,’ Patrick said.

The moonlight lit their smiling faces as they hurtled back along the woodland path to the bicycles.

I breathed out, long and slow. Another success for
la Résistance.

 
Buy the Ebook of Wolfsangel for only £2.99/$2.99/Euros 2.99 at all Amazon stores.


If you happen to visit Lyon sometime, don’t miss the Museum of the Resistance

And if you are ever near Limoges, I would highly recommend a visit to Oradour-sur-Glane, on which the war-crime tragedy of Wolfsangel is based.

Main street of Oradour-sur-Glane
Church of Oradour-sur-Glane


Thursday, 2 March 2017