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Sylvie has a secret watcher. His mission is to eliminate any newcomer who might sully her innocence.
Sylvie’s carefree world turns into a nightmare when terrible accidents start to befall her male friends. Is she jinxed or is someone out to harm them? She must find the killer before he does anything to the new man in her life.

Winner of the NAWG Award
‘This is the rarest of creatures a thriller that actually thrills. From the opening page, this suspense story grabs the reader and won’t let go. It’s a genuinely creepy, tingly read, packed with menace and malice – the sort that is uncomfortable to read but impossible to put down.’
Iain Pattison – Award judge

Blood on the Bulb Fields in Pictures

Way back in 2006, I had the idea of writing a series about an amateur sleuth who was a coach tour manager. Her driver could be her confidant, and the limited number of passengers gave me the perfect whodunit framework.

The next question was where to set the novel. I loved the idea of finding a dead body in a beautiful place. We had been to Keukenhof several times and it fitted the bill perfectly.

I decided from the very beginning that the location must be an important part of the novel and the story couldn’t happen anywhere else. The basis for the plot came quickly – Amsterdam is famous for its diamond cutting – diamonds suggest smuggling. Doing my research, I discovered that most smuggled diamonds are conflict or blood diamonds and that the whole operation is financed by terrorists. This would lead to the involvement of an anti-terrorist unit in the story.

Before I could get any further, I needed to go back to Holland. First stop was Keukenhof. While everyone else was taking photos of the beautiful bulbs, I was looking for where I could hide a dead body.

From the balcony on the windmill, I spotted a café in the far corner of the park. It happened to be closed at the time which was perfect for my plot.

Just outside the windmill, was a stall selling clogs – which gave me another idea for the novel.


In Blood on the Bulb fields, at the end of the visit to Keukenhof, one of the passengers goes missing and his wife is pacing up and down outside the gates by the time Fiona arrives.

In the novel, when Fiona and her party are in Amsterdam, she gives everyone some free time to explore by themselves and arranges to meet at the National Monument in the central square. Again, although I remembered the area, I’d forgotten if there was a wall or steps at the bottom. One of Fiona’s passengers wasn’t feeling too good and needed to sit down while she was wailing. That was another thing I needed to check on my research visit.

Our last holiday visit to Amsterdam also included a visit to a diamond-cutting factory.

Our coach tour also took us Scheveningen where went for a walk on its unusual pier.

In Delft, we were taken to visit a pottery factory and watched the women hand painting plates just as Fiona takes her party.

The evening entertainment at one of the hotels was provided by a dance group from one of the towns near the German border. Not quite the typical Dutch national costume you might expect.

I must confess that our visit to the flower market at Aalsmeer  was on one of our previous visits to Holland when we were holidaying in our caravan. Watching the buyers bidding at a Dutch auction proved fascinating.

Cycling back to the campsite, we stopped at a cheese making farm. I think I had as much fun stirring the curds as Fiona’s passengers in the novel. We wrapped the cheeses we bought in our sweaters to protect them before we put them in our saddle bags for the last stretch of the journey. It took the rest of the holiday to get rid of the smell, but the cheese tasted fantastic!

What better excuse can there be for a holiday than needing to research the next novel?

Murder in Morocco in Pictures

Location is one of the most important things for me as a writer. I need to be able to picture exactly where the action of each scene is set. My characters are always from my imagination, but the settings are real.

The locations for all but my first two novels have been inspired by holidays, but unlike the Fiona Mason Mysteries, our holiday to Morocco was never intended as a research trip. It was only because I had finished the final draft of Blood Across the Divide and had a three month wait before the research trip for the next Fiona Mason novel that I decided I would try writing a new series. Our holiday to Morocco had exceeded all expectation and was still fresh in my memory. What had helped make it so special is that the travel company was working with the Royal Academy who provided an accompanying history lecturer who pointed out things we might well have missed and who gave us lectures in the evenings. The idea for a novel began to take shape, though suffice it to say, our lecturer was nothing like Aunt Jessica.

Although I had made no notes, I did have literally hundreds of photos to help me when I came to write. Continue reading

New Year Resolutions

Has anyone learnt the skill of knitting time?

2017 has rushed past at an alarming rate. I toyed with the idea of trying to take life at a slower pace in the year to come. Having retired more years ago than I like to remember, life should really be getting less hectic, but the chances of that are pretty slim. Fundamentally it means giving up at least one of my activities. My mornings are devoted to exercise – yoga, tai chi, Zumba, line dancing and pilates. Giving up any one of these, would be counter-productive – I need to keep healthy – and there is no way I want to write less – in fact, the opposite!

Many of my writing goals for the coming year don’t change much from the ones I always make:Update website. Priority has to be to sort out my new website. The template I bought in the summer – if not earlier is still sitting there and its technology continues to defeat me.

  • Write more. I felt so proud of myself for achieving 50,000 words of the next Fiona Mason novel for NaNoWriMo, but I have not looked at it since. I MUST get down to some serious writing. I’m not the world’s fastest writer, but it would be good to get not only ‘Blood Flows South’ plus a second Aunt Jessica published this year.
  • Read more. There are shelves of reference books still sitting there in my study that I never make time to read and I dare not look at the number of books I’ve downloaded onto my Kindle – it was something like 400 last time I looked!
  • Learn Twitter. That’s been on the list for a good 5 years and I can’t remember where I put the book I bought to learn up on it.
  • Plus – I also have two Ancient history lecture cruises to prepare for and I need to do a vast amount of research before I can begin to even sort those out. As I need to make trips to the British Museum and to Oxford’s Ashmolean museum, I can’t afford to leave the research until the last minute.

Back in 2015, I created an elaborate spreadsheet detailing my goals for the year broken down into twelve month-long blocks using the smart. It was divided into two major sections – writing and marketing. Looking back on the year, the writing goals I fulfilled without too many problems, but I doubt I met even half of my marketing project goals. I seriously underestimated how long each of those marketing tasks would talk. I realised early on that one month was not enough for me to master Twitter (I’m still so terrified of it, I still haven’t opened the book I bought on the subject) or look at the book I have on getting the most out of Goodreads. I’m not going to bother spending time creating another spread sheet, but I am determined to stop procrastinating and at least make a start on both books this coming year and at the very least, crack Twitter.

I find mapping goals for the year ahead quite a depressing activity. I know it should enthuse and encourage, but even using the old SMART principal hasn’t helped at all. I’ve done very little the last few days – I have a cold – nothing disastrous, but I’m feel very sorry for myself.

On the plus side, I’ve just been given another 5* review for Blood in the Wine and the nights are getting lighter so life is not that bad.

What are your New Year resolutions? Do the excite or depress you?

A Christmas Ghost Story for you

Wishing all my readers a wonderful Christmas and a great 2018


Tom stopped to admire the view. A slow smile spread over his face. Even in the gathering gloom of a winter’s early evening, Wyvern Hall with its broad Neo-classic façade was impressive. That first time he had come up this long drive, he had thought it the grandest building he had ever seen. He had been so proud that he was going to work at the big house.

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My NaNoWriMo Experience

Those of you who read last month’s post will know that I intended to attempt the NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. I knew that many of my friends had done it, but for the last few years, I have been away on holiday so 2017 was my chance to give it a go.

I didn’t expect to achieve 50,000 words in just 30 days. I’m a slow writer at the best of times averaging 500 a day – if I manage 1000 words, I feel very proud of myself – but I thought the discipline would do me good.

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The dreaded to-do list

There was a time when retirement was meant to be when you slowed down and took life easily. Like so many of my contemporaries, that idea seems to have passed me by.

Even my writing to-do list gets longer by the day. I haven’t done any work on the next novel in months. I’m currently busy trying to get to grips with Scrivener – a tool to help writers keep track of projects and which many authors swear by. A couple of months ago, I bought a new website template which is proving considerably more complex than I ever imaged and I’m not getting very far with it. Currently, my eBooks are on Amazon and I’ve decided to make them available in other outlets. Another learning curve to climb. I also need to spend time learning more about how to utilise things like twitter and a whole host of other marketing strategies. I have books on making the most of Goodreads and Facebook, how to understand Search Engine Optimisation (still not sure I even understand what that means) plus several other books and tasks that have been at the bottom of my to-do list for years! Continue reading

Books, books and more books.

Bedtime reading

My hobbies are listed as reading, writing and travel. It’s one of life’s great pleasures to curl up in bed at the end of the day with a good book and travel to a different world. In a life that is ridiculously busy, where my to-do list always seems longer come bedtime than when my day began, it’s a great way to unwind, to forget about the problems of the day and let go of the guilt about those things you should have done but never got round to. There is something very special about holding a brand new physical book in your hands as you cuddle down propped up on the pillows.

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Jemima, Jessica, Louisa? – What’s in a name?

Little did I realise the flurry of response posting the proposed book cover for my new series on Facebook would provoke. Murder in Morocco is the first in a new series I’d planned to call the Aunt Jemima Mysteries. But it seems “Aunt Jemima” conjures up a very different picture for my American friends from the eccentric, go-getting if now elderly adventurer that I envisaged. I hadn’t appreciated that the name is offensive to some people in the US where it can be derogatory label and conjures up images of an obsequiously servile black woman.

I’ve lived with Aunt Jemima for over eight months and it’s not going to be easy to find her a name that doesn’t change her personality entirely. I suggested Jessica but that didn’t go down too well either.

Names are crucial – they reflect personality and changing a lead character at this stage in the game is no easy task. I’ve had lots of suggestions on my Facebook Author page – keep them coming – but it might help to know more about my eponymous heroine. Continue reading


Truth to tell, my PC and I always had a difficult relationship. He (it must have been male because it never listened to reason, was stubborn and could be extremely childish at times) had this frustrating habit of refusing to do what he was asked – I would press all the right keys etc but he just would not co-operate and I would have to call for techie husband to sort out the problem. You might know, the minute hubbie walked in the door, the PC would spring into action and sit up like a naughty puppy to all intents and purposes saying, ‘It wasn’t me – it was her!’ behaving itself perfectly without his old master having to touch the keys. It’s true, it was my husband’s old machine passed down when he got a better model and my PC knew it’s true master’s touch! It never messed him about.  

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Technology and Me

I’ve just spent three frustrating days updating my recently published paperback of Blood and Chocolate in Create Space. I decided the original print size was too small. Surely it wouldn’t be that difficult a task? Update the file and reload it and adjust the spine size for the cover – a half-hour job at most. Don’t you believe it!

Originally, I had used as a template all the measurements for an earlier novel printed by another printer. There were a few problems but the Create Space reviewer had accepted it. Hoping to avoid any problems, I learnt a few new tricks in Microsoft Word and re-did page size and margins etc to Create Space specifications. Heaven knows what I did, but I upset my PC (it’s never really liked me) to the point that it took my ever-patient techie husband (my PC’s first owner and for whom it usually behaves the moment he steps in the door) had to spend the best part of yesterday afternoon putting it right. After at least five long trawls through the interior reviewer checking every page, I finally managed to get rid of the glitches in my Blood and Chocolate file and up loaded the interior.

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