Thank you for visiting my blog! I write psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non fiction.
I’m a member of the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.
My new book Paranormal Warwickshire is out now from Amberley Publishing. It’s available everywhere good books are sold. If you’d like a signed copy sent to any UK address, just pay £12.50 here and include a note of your postal address, and any requests for a special message, and I’ll post you a signed copy at once.
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I studied English Literature at Lancaster University, and my first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later I lived for nearly five years in Australia. I now live in Warwickshire with my husband David and son Jamie, and my daughter Abigail is studying for a Masters at university in Australia.
I completed two full-length adult novels before writing Mystical Circles. I’ve always been fascinated by the interaction of different complex personalities, an inexhaustible source of inspiration for a writer!
And my advice to anyone who wants to be a writer? Read a lot, listen to people’s conversations, be observant about the details of your world, and especially about human behaviour and interaction, and persist in your writing, being single-minded to the point of obsession…never give up, always believe in yourself despite all evidence to the contrary,(Click to Tweet) and hold out for what you first dreamed of.
Thank you for reading this. And if you want to be first to hear about my next novel, which is currently in progress, do sign up on my email list here.
November 2021 for me has been an amazing month. In the last two weeks of November 2021 I’ve met so many exciting fellow authors at two fabulous book events. There has been a great sense of cameraderie, we have all deepened relationships or made new ones, discovered each other’s books, and we have sold our books to keen readers too!
Thank you to two multi-genre authors: Wendy H Jones for inviting me to the Brechin Angus Bookfest in Scotland, 19th to 21st November; and Shelley Wilson for inviting me to the Meet the Author event run by the Socially Shared Business Support Network at the Priory Theatre Kenilworth on 24th November 2021.
I was delighted to be invited to take part in these two events. I came away having signed up for mailing lists, bought new books, sold some of mine, listened to several fascinating talks, enjoyed creative conversations and experienced kindness, generosity and friendship. There were lots of warm, smiling authors, readers and book-buyers.
As a postscript, at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, I also added a few ghost stories to my collection, including ones about theatrical ghosts which I wish I had known about while I was writing Paranormal Warwickshire! (They may come in useful for a future book). Here are a few photos which give a flavour of these two events.
Today I’m pleased to be part of the blog tour for a delightful new contemporary novel by fellow-author Lizzie Chantree.
The Woman Who Felt Invisible is a title which I believe will engage many women especially those who are creative, and involved in marketing and promotion of their own creative work. I am part of a Facebook book group run by Lizzie and she does an enormous amount to support and encourage other authors, asking us challenging and stimulating questions, and sharing helpful information. For many of us, she is building up authors to step out on a path to becoming much more visible. In this novel, Lizzie gives us a main protagonist, Olivia, who goes on a journey many women will identify with.
I must admit I was immediately attracted to this novel by the gorgeous cover design. I am an occasional reader of women’s contemporary novels with romance stirred in, and I feel sure Lizzie’s novels strongly appeal to all those who love such writers as Katie Fforde, Debbie Young, Ritu Bhathal and Fern Britton.
Here is the blurb for Lizzie’s new novel:
A gorgeous romantic story of love and new beginnings. Learning to love herself and be content on her own is the first step. But will Olivia be able to leave her past behind, follow her heart and find lasting happiness? A read full of humour, romance and tear-jerking reality, from international bestselling author, Lizzie Chantree.
Have you ever felt invisible?
Working as a stationery supervisor and a sitter to a pair of internet famous, delinquent dogs, wasn’t how former cyber-specialist, Olivia, imagined her life turning out.
Working in a tiny cubicle with a decrepit computer and being overlooked had suited her for a while, but now she’s fed up, lonely and determined to make the world ‘see’ her again.
Old school friend, Darius, wants to fill Olivia’s days with romance, but their love of technology has taken them on very different paths.
Gorgeous undercover policeman Gabe, is steadfast in finding out if Olivia was part of an online scam, but something doesn’t feel right and he suspects someone else was manipulating her life.
Can love blossom from the most deceptive of starts? And can someone who feels lost, find a way to flourish against all odds?
International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at http://www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.
International bestselling author Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, about women with unusual businesses, who are stronger than they realise.
Book links: Lizzie Chantree.
Universal book buy link: The little ice cream shop: viewbook.at/IceCreamShopByTheSea
Universal book buy link: Networking for writers: viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters
Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours
Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewbook.at/NinjaSchoolMumRomance
Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven
Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild
Universal book buy link: Finding Gina: viewbook.at/FindingGina
Shh… It’s Our Secret: https://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Chantree_Shh_Its_Our_Secret.html
The woman who felt invisible: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09J98F32J
Social media links:
I have just finished this excellent anthology Write Well which I found an inspiring resource.
A varied selection of writers have contributed pieces to this book, which are arranged under three main headings: Section One: Digging the Well; Section 2: Priming the Pump and Section 3: Filling the Bucket.
I found the different chapters very inspiring and encouraging, with diverse viewpoints and experiences about the writing and publishing journey. One very powerful insight emerged for me: so many of the authors had travelled a path between multiple obstacles, of disappointment, discouragement, new hope, fresh inspiration, unexpected help and guidance, unlooked for success, fresh turnings… This book is a valuable resource for all writers on their journey across rocky and uneven ground.
Amy Scott Robinson has compiled this anthology. Amy is herself a prolific writer, storyteller and ventriloquist, as well as being a lovely, bubbly personality whom I have met and chatted to at a few writing conferences. She has published a series of delightful children’s books for children age 7-9 as well as Images of the Invisible, a book of daily bible readings for Advent.
Do follow the links and check out these books if you are looking for ideal book gifts for Christmas.
I found this, the third in the Oron Amular Trilogy, a very intense read. King Curillian, along with his Captain of the Guard, Lancoir, his magician ally Roujeark, and his loyal band of Armist comrades go through a series of extreme ordeals, tests and snares in the Mountain of Aron Amular. These tests are set for them by the Wizard Kulothiel, along with all the other tournament competititors from various races. Their company is joined by a new heroic figure whom I found fascinating: Sir Theonar of the Pegasus, who wants to challenge Southilar for the Clan Lordship of the Aranese.
With dazzling eloquence and extended scenes of violent action, the narrative seizes you and never lets you go in this book. Many pages are devoted to a ferocious account of brutal fighting. The narrative drives you along relentlessly and the series of ordeals is the stuff of dreams and nightmares, and not unlike some of the scenes in an Indiana Jones film.
Along with this the author explores the emotional and psychological landscape of his principal characters with great conviction. The outcome of the story totally defeated my expectations. I have given this book 5 stars for its power to engage, but will admit the end left me unsettled and disturbed.
We are told the story will continue, so do look up the author’s website World of Astrom to find out more.
Michael J Harvey is a fantasy novelist with a degree in Ancient and Modern History from the University of Leicester and a Masters in Medieval History from the University of Cambridge, blogger adventurer and traveller, his foremost passion is writing. Michael lives in Cambridge, England, with his wife Lucy and two sons.
I met Michael at a writers’ conference in Cambridge on Saturday 4th September 2021, and listened to him talking about how he came to write this high fantasy trilogy. He shared with us how he had created the maps of his world (see worldofastrom.com), about his process of worldbuilding, and his journey towards publication.
Michael did a book-signing at the conference and we bought the trilogy from him then. I particularly loved the book covers, with their glorious colours and sublime landscapes Indeed, one of the outstanding elements of the trilogy is the author’s sharp, detailed and vivid descriptions of the landscape through which his hero and allies travel on their quest.
My Review of Book 1: The Call of the Mountain
This, book 1 in the Oron Amular trilogy, held me captivated after a rather slow start, albeit beautifully written. I always feel with fantasy, the challenge is to build the fantasy world whilst also engaging us in a central character; and I didn’t feel fully engaged with the principal characters until well into the book. Nevertheless all the archetypes of the fantasy journey are here, and the author’s descriptions of the landscape through which the travellers pass are outstanding.
There are several extended scenes of extreme threat and physical peril which are very exciting to read. I began to feel a strong sense of identification with the journey and with the characters of Curillian the king of Maristonia, and Roujeark, his faithful ally. Roujeark as a character is especially intriguing: a gifted young magician and indispensable companion on the journey, who has special powers and a unique connection with Prelan, whom we might call the ‘Supreme Spirit’ or the deity of this narrative. The book ends on a fantastic cliffhanger, and I think we can see parallels in our life journeys here. Onto the next book in the trilogy, which is called ‘Rite of Passage.’
My Review of Book 2: Rite of Passage
In this, the second of the Oron Amular trilogy, our hero King Curillian of Maristonia, and faithful ally, magician Roujeark must complete a vital task which seems to distract them from their great journey, with their entourage, towards the Mountain of Aron Amular. There, the Keeper Kulothiel has prepared a mysterious tournament for the various races of Astrom – men, armists, dwarves and elves among them.
But first Curillian must follow a controversial and dangerous diversion on his journey, to rescue an imprisoned elven princess, before he can continue his quest. The account of the rescue is fascinating, filled with peril and vividly told.
I found this second book very exciting, engaging me on a much deeper level with the multi-dimensional character of Curillian. The narrative gathers momentum, increasing the complexity of the relationships, introducing new characters, and enriching our knowledge of Astrom and the tensions between its various races, together with several different intriguing personalities who come to the fore and challenge our heroes in a variety of ways.
In particular, I find the author’s presentation of the elves and their sometimes contradictory and ambivalent character very striking. The story works on a powerful spiritual level as well as that of a pacy, thrilling yarn. Highly recommended. Now on to the third book!
Recently I visited one of the locations in my current work-in-progress, Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire to be published by Amberley Publishing in 2022.
The subject matter of the book varies widely but is largely about curious events in the physical world, based in known fact; however, the first chapter is devoted to strange and spooky tales.
The venue was local to my home in Warwick, and I had already received a full account of strange experiences from a very reliable informant, lasting over a period of decades. Now I was seeking a story which might corroborate his description, but describe much more recent experiences. Sadly, the people I questioned on two separate visits had not experienced anything at all. I was inclined to put it down to the Covid-19 lockdown: presumably, I thought, the ghosts had gone into lockdown too. I respected the fact that they had no story to tell, and acknowledged this in my book, believing that a lack of stories is also important to record. For the mystery of paranormal experiences is that whilst many may visit a particular location, some feel and see nothing: others sense a rich atmosphere: and still others do indeed see, hear, and feel things that have no scientific explanation.
This reminded me of a series of questions that collectors of paranormal stories are to ask.
- Can you tell me how you first became aware this was more than a mundane incident?
- Did any other explanations come to mind?
- What conclusion did you reach as you thought through these possibilities?
- Did you take any action based on this?
- How did it affect you from then on?
- Do you have any background, cultural or historical, that sheds light on this?
These are the questions I kept in mind as I researched various stories for my book Paranormal Warwickshire.
Paranormal Warwickshire emerged from my experience in several places, which I describe as spiritual resonance. These great buildings, maybe in a ruinous state, are not simply piles of stone, but animated by that “indefinable spark.”
In my book, the curious anecdotes told of these buildings acknowledge the life that fills the spaces between the stones. I include stories of everyday places as well: shops, railway stations, houses, pubs and churchyards, not just castles, abbeys and manor houses.
When I hear stories, I listen respectfully, even if I feel some may be conjured up by the imagination. I also ask why several different people, independently of each other and unknown to each other, should have the same experience in the same place over a long period of time. There have been many recorded cases of which this is true. Then, if you think it was “all their imagination”, you have to ask “what is it about this particular place that makes so many different people imagine the same thing there?”
The most compelling ghost stories are not about famous historical characters. A lot of them turn out, after research, to have emerged from the lives and deaths of people who never made their mark on history: people about whom we would have known nothing if the paranormal event had not alerted our attention and prompted research.
Two fabulous book events will be happening in November and I’ll be at both of them.
The first is the Brechin/Angus Bookfest in Scotland.
The Brechin Angus Bookfest takes places over the weekend of 19th to 21st November 2021 in the Northern Hotel, Brechin, near Dundee in Scotland. Several authors of different genres will be there chatting to readers, leading workshops and sessions, and showcasing their books. An amazing variety of events is planned over the weekend including a Meet the Author Scottish high tea, so that sounds like something not to be missed. I’ll be there with all my books, and together with historical fiction author Fen Flack I’ll be leading a session called ‘From Australia to Scotland’ . Intrigued? Well, if you’re in Scotland, then put it in your diary!
The next November event I’ll be involved in is a Meet the Author event at The Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. That will take place on 24th November from 10am to 1pm. Again, several authors will be present, all local women authors from the area of Kenilworth, Warwick and Leamington, all looking forward to chatting to readers and showcasing a wonderful variety of books.
Don’t forget these are all excellent opportunities to buy Christmas presents in your local area!
I’d love to see you there if you are in either of these areas. I’ll have all my books on display: Mystical Circles, A Passionate Spirit, Perilous Path and Paranormal Warwickshire. All of these are of course available through my website, and through online stores or through bricks and mortar bookstores. But do come along and join in the fun, chat to authors, and stock up with some books for your friends and family for Christmas!
I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for this, the second of Ruth Leigh’s contemporary novels about Isabella M Smugge, lifestyle blogger and instagram influencer. The Trials of Isabella M Smugge is published by Instant Apostle.
I found the previous Isabella book a surprise, expecting a high farcical content: instead, it was a poignant and touching story of about contemporary family life and relationships. Fans of the first book will find this follow-up exceeds all their expectations.
I was intrigued by how Ruth chooses to handle the character of Isabella: lifestyle blogger and Instagram influencer, a style guru with enormous expertise in fashion, interior decor, and haute cuisine. Ruth is acutely observant about our consumer society, obsessed with brands, trends and image. She is brimming with phrases like ”carefully curated personal appearances”; “doyenne of the lifestyle blogging world”, “so not me”; “I was the first to spot that seagrass was over”; “my trademark eye for a good finish”; “conceptual layered pieces”; “a delightfully on-trend and vibey air”. I did love this, and it often made me laugh out loud.
Behind it all, we feel great sympathy for Isabella herself, in her increasingly chaotic personal life: betrayed by her husband, coping with an unexpected baby on the way, targeted by a vicious gossip columnist, and trying to rebuild her life as a single mother. Alongside all this, her drive to keep up her perfect online image becomes increasingly ridiculous.
Johnnie, her faithless, charming, hedge-fund-manager husband, masquerades as protective but in fact is emotionally manipulative and controlling. Around Isabella and her family, the author develops a cast of characters who either support or goad or torment her, some leading her along the path to true authenticity, others urging her to negative behaviour and values.
Ironically, Isabella appears to be “a woman in control”, on top of things, telling other people how to attain high society‘s false idea of perfection; yet in reality we can see she is not in control at all. She is not liberated in the true sense of the word, she is enslaved by what her husband thinks of her, and is rarely true to herself. We just want her to break through the web of artificiality she weaves around herself, to become real and honest about who and what she truly is.
As the story builds, the author includes sharp and waspish descriptions, especially of church services and Christians praying. Yet it is Christian friends who become a lifeline to Isabella. Following childbirth she suffers what many would recognise as postnatal depression: nothing she has to say about her baby is loving: the only things she notices are very negative and even cynical. Then we feel a great sense of relief when Isabella’s friend Nicki speaks the truth to Isabella at last, about herself, and Johnnie.
This is very much a book about family life and friendship as well as growing self-knowledge. I do like the end, very much: it is clever and perceptive, and the signs of transformation in Isabella may give rise to sparks of amusement and recognition in the reader.
A highly recommended book. You may find it online among contemporary women’s fiction.
Ruth may be found on Facebook as Ruth Leigh Writes and as @ruthleighwrites on Twitter and Instagram. You can visit her website at ruthleighwrites.co.uk if you would like to order a signed copy of the book.
Published by Instant Apostle, Ruth’s books are widely available in bookshops and all online book retail stores as well as from her website.
Before visiting the gardens at Stourhead, Wiltshire the other day I looked forward to seeing for myself this ‘living work of art’, for I had created a brightly coloured, stylised copy of a photo of that iconic view just last year, during the first UK lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When we visited the garden, originally created in the eighteenth century by the Hoare family, we learned that Henry “the Magnificent” (‘gentleman gardener’) had relied on elements of concealment and surprise in his grand vision of this classical landscape. So we took the route that Henry had set out specially for his guests to take, from the house to the lake, and experienced the concealment and surprise and revelation for ourselves.
Finally, having received glimpses of both the Temple of Apollo and the Pantheon through the carefully selected, planted, cultivated and shaped trees, we came upon the iconic view itself, where you can see the Pantheon across the lake beyond the bridge:
I was enchanted as this was the view I had copied in acrylic paints from a photo back in the lockdown. I felt as if I was walking into my own painting, albeit with more subtle colouring than my own fluorescent production!
Later, after visiting the house, we walked around the lake and climbed up to the Temple of Apollo.
On a recent trip to Portsmouth, we were absorbed into the lives of the great ships there, and their rich histories. The Mary Rose Museum shone out for us with its immersive experience and its astonishing recovery of details of the sailors’ lives back in 1545.
The audio tour of the HMS Victory helped us to relive the dramatic and heartrending moments of Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fatal injury, his journey to the surgeon’s quarters and his final hours, with his loyal second-in-command Captain Hardy.
The audio narration and dramatic re-enactment engaged us on every level, enabling us to imagine the feelings, sights, sounds and smells of that experience, along with all the emotions of horror and disgust and tragedy and to guess at how the news of victory may have provided some compensation to Nelson for the imminent loss of his life.
HMS Warrior, a magnificent Victorian armoured ship in immaculate condition ‘never fired a gun in anger’. Built in 1860 it ran on half sail half steam.
Now, with Living History actors on board playing the part of the original sailors we felt a real sense of how it must have been to spend time on board as a member of the crew.
Beyond these two wonderful ships, the Mary Rose Museum filled us with awe. Sunk in the Solent in 1545, and raised over four centuries later, the Mary Rose and her story exerts a curious power over us: her many artefacts recovered along with the mortal remains of 129 crew, this exhibition was a truly amazing experience for us. The number of people originally on board at the time of the tragedy is not known for sure and it varies between 500 and 700. It is thought the shop was overloaded, and this may have been one of the factors causing it to sink. The number of survivors is also thought to have been between 35 and 40. They would have chanced to be in the right place on the ship at the right time to escape and be rescued by small boats sent out to save them. Many others were trapped by the “anti-boarding nets” stretched over the decks to prevent the enemy swarming on board. The ship sunk very quickly, and half of it ended up deep in silt so it was preserved.
Now, the recovered part of the timber hull is held in a state of perfect equilibrium, so the timbers no longer need to be sprayed with water or viewed through portholes. Instead, thanks to a fine balance of atmosphere and temperature and a series of air-lock doors, we may gaze at the recovered hull in its entirety, at every deck level.
Most poignant of all are the many objects and possessions of the sailors and the remarkable amount of details about several individuals on board: the Master Gunner, the Master Carpenter, the Pursar, the Archer, the Surgeon – their lives, medical histories and personal items.
I am in awe of the skill, ingenuity and expertise of the archaeologists, the divers, the forensic anthropologists and other scientists and all those who made this exhibition possible, for us to see and imagine and empathise with those many hundreds of people who lost their lives that day in 1545.