Saturday, 22 June 2019

Cover Reveal: The Birthday Card

I am so excited to reveal the cover for my new book, The Birthday Card, designed by the wonderful Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics.

It is just like my character, Doreen Wilkinson, colourful and bubbly!

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Mock Up!

Goodness, yesterday I received the mock up for, The Birthday Card, cover. Wow! It is beautiful. I can't stop looking at it. *laugh*

Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics has done an amazing job and I can't wait to share with you all, but for now I have to be patient... *sighs*

The Birthday Card is a prequel to Sometimes It Happens…

Winning the lottery was just the beginning for Doreen Wilkinson, nothing prepared Doreen and her seventeen year old daughter for their holiday at the luxury Villas Bonitas and nothing prepared Villas Bonitas for the Wilkinsons.

Sometimes It a cast of characters, all have secrets and as Doreen and her daughter mingle with the rich, they find that deception, love, lies and laughter turns their holiday into one they will never forget.

"Sometimes It Happens that I come across a thoroughly enjoyable story that makes me laugh out loud at the antics of the characters within. This is one of them!"

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Update: The Birthday Card

It’s been a very busy week as my editor, Nicky Galliers, returned my MSS. Thankfully not too many changes, but enough to know how amazing she is.
Whilst I work through these, Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics is designing the cover. It’s an exciting time and I’ll be keeping you updated on everything.

The Birthday Card is a prequel to Sometimes It Happens…

Winning the lottery was just the beginning for Doreen Wilkinson, nothing prepared Doreen and her seventeen year old daughter for their holiday at the luxury Villas Bonitas and nothing prepared Villas Bonitas for the Wilkinsons.

Sometimes It a cast of characters, all have secrets and as Doreen and her daughter mingle with the rich, they find that deception, love, lies and laughter turns their holiday into one they will never forget.

"Sometimes It Happens that I come across a thoroughly enjoyable story that makes me laugh out loud at the antics of the characters within. This is one of them!"

Friday, 14 June 2019

Death is not always the end with Marla Skidmore

Death is not always the end.
A journey into the Afterlife with King Richard III

Today, I have the lovely Marla Skidmore sitting round my pool talking about... well let Marla tell us. In the meantime, do help yourself to a glass of bubbly and settle in one of the comfortable loungers.
It's all your Marla....

Thank you so much Pauline for inviting me to contribute to your Blog and for the opportunity to tell your readers about my book.  ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King,’ is my debut novel.  To my delight, it became a winner in the fiction category of the Georgina Hawtrey-Woore ‘Words for the Wounded’ National Writing Prize for 2018 and in addition was reviewed by Helen Hollick’s highly respected ‘Discovering Diamonds’ team of Bloggers and awarded their logo. 

Once again, the Medieval Festival Season is upon us – Barnet, Tewkesbury and Bosworth are all taking place within the next few weeks – sadly this year the Richard III Festival at Middleham Castle has been cancelled, but the organizers assure us that it will be back again in 2020.  Since the discovery of King Richard III’s grave and his reburial in Leicester Cathedral these events have a special poignancy for all Ricardians.

Last August I attended the Bosworth Festival for the first time as an author and had an amazing time –  giving readings from my novel , answering questions and meeting so many wonderful and enthusiastic people – all of whom knew their Wars of the Roses history – it was also enormous fun having lively and good natured debates with Tudor supporters – I even managed to get a couple of  them to rethink their opinion of King Richard – and they also bought my book!  At this point I would also like to express my gratitude to the lovely group of Indie Authors – Facebook friends - whom I met up with at Bosworth - their encouragement, guidance and advice made what initially was going to be a daunting prospect, a hugely enjoyable event for this novice

Betrayed and savagely slaughtered on Bosworth Field, Richard’s body was unceremoniously buried in the Quire of the Greyfriars monastery church in Leicester.  When it, like most monasteries, became a casualty of Henry VIII’s Reformation and was destroyed in 1536, a persistent rumour arose - that Richard’s remains were tossed from Bow Bridge into the River Soar – never to be seen again.  Their whereabouts remained one of history’s enduring mysteries - until Philippa Langley, screenwriter and Richard III researcher, made it her mission to find his burial place.  The miraculous discovery of his grave, beneath the letter ‘R’ in a Leicester city car park, ignited a debate about where he should be reinterred - it raged on for over two years – his final resting place was to be in Leicester Cathedral much to the disappointment of many - what was of the most importance to most Ricardians however,  was  that at last England’s last warrior king has a fitting tomb – something that was denied him by Henry Tudor at the time of his death.

In the late summer of 2014, I met with a group of old university friends for our usual quarterly get together in York. Scientific testing done by Leicester University had by then confirmed that the re-discovered remains were indeed those of King Richard III.  The myth of the deformed hunchback king with the withered arm had been exploded - most of us were rather sceptical anyway - about that and the villainous image of Richard created by the Tudor propaganda machine and accepted by numerous traditional historians. 

During lunch, the topic of his reburial place came up in our conversation.  It was generally accepted  that as an anointed king, he ought to be reburied in Westminster Abbey, or in York Minster – believed to be his preferred choice.  During a quiet moment, I found myself speculating about  Richard’s reaction to the current controversy - if he were alive - and also to the defiling of his reputation.   Another member of the group, a fellow Ricardian and a highly respected Medieval historian - being aware of my love of weaving stories - challenged me to write one about him.  Her words were: “write about Richard - in blue jeans – bring him into the 21st century.”   She had sown the seed – fragments of a story began to circulate in my mind - but there was so much already written about Richard III – fiction and non-fiction.  How to entice historical fiction readers into reading my story and avoid a ‘not another book about Richard III!’ reaction, was the problem I was facing.  To solve it, I knew that an entirely different perspective was required - so I made the decision to begin my novel where most books about him end - with his death on Bosworth Field.

To enable readers to witness the key events in Richard’s life, I took a new approach – set the story in the framework of his own recollections in the Afterlife.  On regaining consciousness on the bloody plain of Redemore, he is fearful and bewildered to find himself still alive.  His gaze takes in the carnage surrounding him to see Henry Tudor standing triumphant over a mauled and battered corpse – which to his utter horror turns out to be his own.  And so, the reader is taken with Richard on a harrowing journey of atonement, accompanied by his celestial mentor, Father Gilbert, a Franciscan monk.  During this journey he tries to come to terms with actions he took, their consequences and the legacy of the Tudor Propaganda machine, which turned him into one of the worst villains in history.
I  try to take readers into the medieval mindset – where Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and the Garden of Eden are all utterly real –  give them a look into Richard’s psyche – to see the king pared down to the tough uncompromising man behind the crown; and also to see the torment of a soul who believes that his honour and reputation have been defiled and forever destroyed.

The concept of a soul in Purgatory is not new – Dante Ailghieri’s epic poem, ‘The Divine Comedy’ which was written in the 14th century, tells of his own soul’s journey through hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil.  The second part of his poem ‘Purgatorio’ gave me the idea for the setting of ‘Renaissance.’  Dante with Virgil as his guide, climbs up the seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth that make up Mount Purgatory, until he finally reaches the earthly paradise of Eden.  Allegorically Purgatorio symbolises the penitent Christian and Eden represents the attainment of the state of innocence that existed before Adam and Eve fell from Grace – which Dante’s journey represents.  In my novel Richard, with the guidance of Father Gilbert, achieves Eden but is then unwilling to take the final step to heaven; Gilbert makes him examine the reasons for his reluctance which results in Richard becoming a witness to the reburial of his rediscovered remains in Leicester Cathedral, where he is faced with one final and very crucial decision that will affect his soul’s destiny throughout all eternity.  By setting my novel in the Afterlife I was able to make a dead man speak – tell the reader himself what led him to that fateful battle on the 22nd August 1485.

I’ve also attempted to  tackle History’s biggest murder mystery – whilst researching for the book, I came across some little known detail – held in the archives of St George’s Chapel, Windsor – which allows me to give, what I think to be a plausible answer to the question of ‘who killed the princes in the Tower?’

Finally,  in the writing of  ‘Renaissance,’  a number of questions arose  – about history – how we perceive it, how it is written and portrayed and there is also the question of an Afterlife – if it exists – how does a soul deal with the besmirching of his/her reputation after death – in Richard’s case – when there is no one left to defend it.   With my novel I wanted to do my own small part in trying to redress the balance – the victor always writes history – for too long the  image of Richard Plantagenet has been painted the deepest black.
About the Author

Marla grew up in a small medieval city in North Yorkshire where she met and married her soldier husband.  For a number of years, they lived a typical military life – in various postings around Europe and the UK – until she returned home to study for a degree – she emerged with a dual Honours degree in English and History and a Master’s degree in Literature and went on to become a College Lecturer.

Having dabbled in short-story writing and poetry, since her university days, she began her first novel – a romantic murder mystery set during the Peninsula Wars - when a serious health issue forced her to take a prolonged career break.  It was put aside when King Richard III’s grave was rediscovered.  ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King,’ is the end result.  Promising herself that she would immediately return to her earlier novel once ‘Renaissance,’ was written.  Marla finds herself diverted  again.  During her research about the life of Richard III, she became fascinated by the myths surrounding his greatest friend. Francis Viscount Lovell – a man of peace who turned implacable avenger after Bosworth – fanning the flames of rebellion against Henry Tudor.

When not writing, she can be found enthusiastically grubbing around in her large garden, clambering around ancient ruins and taking long walks with her West Highland Terrier, Stanley, in the North Yorkshire Dales.

Social Media Links:

Website (work in progress)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Writing - the pain and the joy by Gilli Allan

Buried treasure, wouldn’t we all like to find some? Today just might be the day you do because, Gilli Allan is sitting round my pool talking about… Buried Treasure! So please help yourself to a glass of bubbly and make yourself comfortable and let’s see what we can find…

I hate writing.  No, I’m exaggerating.  What I hate is starting a new book.  But so far, I’ve always been won over and begun to love it, but only when I reach the precious moment when I cease trying to tell my story where to go, and it begins to tell me. 

It had been too long since I wrote something new.  There were always other things to do, and anyway, I’m not one of those lucky writers who brim with new plot ideas and can’t wait to commit them to paper (or the screen).  I have often said that for me beginning a new book is like carving a lump of granite with a teaspoon.  The urge to create, however, is quite another thing.  This becomes increasingly demanding even when I don’t know what I want to create.  And so it was, last year, when I eventually began BURIED TREASURE.

Of course, I didn’t have a title.  (Until very late on I just called it ‘New Book’.) Neither did I have characters, a basic plot nor even a location!  But I trusted in the fact that once I actually began, the scenario would come into focus, the characters spring to life and the plot would gradually unknot and spool out in front of me. 

There are always personal elements in the stories I write – something I’ve experienced, or events I’ve been told about or seen. In order to come up with a background theme I began by reflecting on subjects I already had an interest in, or an understanding of.  And I already knew that I had a few building blocks to play with.ocks. 

I’ve always had an interest in archaeology, probably stemming from the fact that my great uncle Sydney Ford uncovered a hoard of silver Roman table-ware on his Suffolk farm. Known as the Mildenhall Treasure it is now one of the most famous discoveries housed in the British Museum.  

And I have been involved for more than a decade in the organisation of biannual conferences held at Queens’ College, Cambridge.

So …. if I made my hero an academic archaeologist, and my heroine an events & conference planner, and the back drop for a proportion of the story a university college in Cambridge, I could use my own experience to flesh out the detail and then trust, once set loose in this world I’d created, my imagination would do the rest.  After all, I had an academic archaeologist and historian I could call on to advise on the plausibility of my plot, and to check I’d made no howling errors - my son, Thomas Williams, author of ‘Viking Britain’ and ‘Viking London’.    What could go wrong?  This book was going to be easy-peasy.

In reality, BURIED TREASURE was probably the most difficult book I have ever attempted.  I won’t go into the whys and where-fores, it would take too long and bore you to death.  But it was a total joy when I realised how to navigate the maze, iron out the wrinkles, and unravel the knots.  (Apologies for the mixed metaphors!)

I am sure you will agree that when something has been struggle you love it even more. For those of us who have given birth – need I say more?  And it is a proud and thrilling moment, but also sad, to release your book into the world and wave it goodbye. All you can do is wish it well.


Educating Rita meets Time Team. Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems. 

About Gilli…

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood - a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother. 
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

Gilli’s Links


TORN:   Trailer:

Sunday, 9 June 2019

20,000 miles Into Our Virtual Challenge

Just over a year ago I set a fun “virtual” challenge to reach 30,000 miles.
During this time many super peeps have signed up and now share every step they take.
Today we are over 20,000 miles and close to our goal.

Below is the link that will take you to Making Every Step Count where you can see the thousands of miles these the amazing peeps have shared so far.

A HUGE thanks to you all for being part of our fun challenge, we are almost there!

If you are interested you are welcome to join in the challenge.
It is free and a great motivator to make your steps count.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Monday, 3 June 2019

Shedding Light on Deeper Truths, Gary Santorella

Sitting round my pool today is Award winning author, Gary Santorella talking about his gritty coming-of-age literary novel, Dyed Souls.

“Superbly written though very disturbing… Being an avid reader it will take a long time to find a book up to the standard of Dyed Souls.”

With this little taster, please help yourself to a glass of bubbly, make yourself comfortable and enjoy meeting my wonderful guest.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to contribute to your blog – you’ve been kind beyond words, and The Chill With a Book Reader’s Award Dyed Souls received means more than you can possibly know.

     In my former life, and for many years, I was a counselor and Social Worker in the settings described in the book. But I didn’t write Dyed Souls as another tome about the tolls of physical and sexual abuse, family secrets or our societal failure to address mental health issues. As novelists, I think it is our job to shed light on deeper truths than the superficial tropes offered up by local newsreaders.

     In the United States, seven hundred children enter the foster care system each day. I’ll pause for a moment to let that number sink in. 700. And many of these kids end up in residential treatment centers (as described in the book), psychiatric hospitals, or the juvenile justice system. We diagnose, drug, and incarcerate children in unprecedented numbers. Most pundits, and “experts” think that increasing expenditures for mental health awareness treatment is the solution, but I don’t think that this is much different than believing that removing access to guns solves senseless violence. This only addresses symptoms, not root causes. Dyed Souls looks at who we are as human animals, and how far removed we have removed ourselves from our evolutionary roots. We evolved as societal animals. And societal animals - whether they are wolves, monkeys, or humans - develop norms and rules that instill in individual members an obligation via emotional bonds that contribute to something bigger than the individual – the survival of the entire troop. In return, the odds of survival for the individual improve. There is a balance between individual and societal needs. But something has been afoot in American society, which I believe, has shattered these bonds and destabilized this balance. Our focus has greatly skewed to the individual – to the exclusion, and often, the detriment of the broader society. We focus myopically on what makes us happy or benefits us in the short run (including feeling no guilt about taking our anger out on others), not on long-term beneficial outcomes toward some greater good that contributes to the benefit of all. Our emphasis isn’t on acquiring wisdom (the dreams of Thoreau and Emerson of an American Enlightenment died a long time ago), but on our own immediate self-gratification. Knowledge is no longer tied to a sense of civic duty or obligation, but simply a means toward getting a higher paid job. It’s all about me. A deep cultural narcissism has set in. This is reflected, not only in our politics, but also in how we are raising our kids. We’re more interested in being our kids pals and keeping them (and ourselves) entertained, or blindly approving of everything that they do, rather than instilling a deep sense of moral obligation in them toward others. (My teacher friends in California don’t bother sending notes home to parents when kids misbehave anymore, due to the negative threats and confrontations they have received from parents.) And this is one of the better case scenarios. The worst case is when we feel no need to put away our childish self-gratifying desires at all. When we throw away our sense of duty and obligation, we create throwaway kids. The children in the book are a full reflection of the latter. Charlie, the central character tries to make sense of all of this. Rather than accepting what is happening all around him, he ponders the deeper whys of how he got to Hawthorne, and what he will need to do to build a meaningful life. But he is hanging by a thread. In this sense, he is a metaphor for what is happening in the US on a larger scale. The life he assumes in the end is both a casualty of evolutionary imbalance, and a hope for creating something better. But it is only when he is able to get outside of himself that he is able to acquire the sense of purpose that he seeks.

     Thanks so much for the opportunity to contribute to your blog. And thanks even more for everything you do to help Indie author’s works see the light of day. I hope, in future, that people will look at Indie books in the same way they do Indie films – as a place of sustenance, where they can find thought provoking ideas and commentary that are often ignored by commercially and fiscally minded mainstream publishers! And, my thanks to the hardworking staff at Matador for helping Dyed Souls to become a reality.

Dyed Souls has received 50 ratings (average of 4.42) and 31 reviews on Thanks to everyone who has generously taken the time to do so!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Chill Awards - Newsletter

It's that time of the month  to catch up on all the Awards and new from Chill Award's.
Click on the link below to read all the news!