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Once upon a time there was an author. A very talented author. Someone who did an awful lot for other people - beta reading, opening her blog to guest posts, jollying folk along, and all the rest. The only thing she didn't do well was blow her own trumpet, although if they made 'Hiding one's light under a bushel' an Olympic event, she'd win gold. That author is my guest Elin Gregory, with her cracking new book, Bones of Our Fathers - which is out today!

Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.

Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?

Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his

Excerpt:

Mal couldn’t remember the last time he’d enjoyed an evening so much. Rob’s frank appreciation, and that it was ignored by the others apart from a few gibes at Rob’s expense, had filled Mal with a sense of confidence he didn’t normally enjoy and he played his pool with a flair that surprised him and made Betty nod approvingly. He had even held his own when the banter became more general.

“I’m not letting you upset Betty,” he’d said after an innocent question about her ‘Peaches’ nickname’ prompted a story about a house party when they were sixteen and Betty’s karaoke performance after a pint of peach flavoured schnapps.

“Knight in shinin’ armour is it?” Sion said.

“No, I have to work with her tomorrow. Besides, don’t some of the rest of you have nicknames? Dirty Rob, isn’t it?”

There was one of those tense and silent moments. It can’t have lasted more than a second, but it felt much longer and quite a lot happened. Rob’s lips thinned, Sion glared at Betty who flushed a very ugly pink and Morris emitted an anxious whine. Mal realised he had said absolutely the wrong thing.

“I—um—was called Rainbow in school,” he said. “Rainbow Brite? Like the cartoon.”

“We used to watch that.” Gary grinned. “Didn’t we, Rob?”

“Dammit, Gary!” Rob’s tone was aggrieved but his lips were easing into a smile. “Never out me as a Rainbow Brite fan, lapsed, when I’m trying to impress an attractive bloke.”

Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and has been making stuff up since she learned to talk. Writing has always had to take second place to work and family but, slowly, she is finishing the many novels on her hard drive and actually trying to do something useful with them.
Historical subjects predominate. She has written about ancient Greek sculptors, 18th century seafarers but also about modern men who change shape at will and how echoes of the past can be heard in the present. Heroes tend to be hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow.
There are always new works on the go and she is currently writing more 1930s spies, adding to a series of contemporary romances and doing background reading for stories set in Roman Britain and in WW2.

BOOF 2.5-01
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When I woke this morning, almost the first thing I thought of was Edgar Mobbs. He died at the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) one hundred years ago today. "Even as he lay dying, he scribbled out the machine gun post’s map reference for HQ to eliminate it, asked for reinforcements, and finally added: “Am seriously wounded”.

There's still disagreement about how many - on both sides - died in this battle, and while Edgar Mobbs was just one, for me he represents all those aspirations and possibilities  cut off in their prime. Another casualty on this day was Hedd Wyn, the Welsh bard. War does not discriminate.
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Just a smidgeon from my upcoming historical in the Portkennack universe, Count the Shells. Michael and his young nephew Richard are chatting about his baby sister Lily and Alice the nurserymaid.

Michael chuckled. “Maybe Alice will let me come and keep you and Lily company this afternoon.”
Richard sat up beaming, no doubt at the prospect of further time to be spent in male company. “She will if you ask nicely. She likes you.”
“Does she?” Michael had only passed a few words with the girl. “How on earth do you know these things?”
“Oh, I’ve seen the way she looks at you. The same way that Lily looks at a plate of rice pudding.”
The remark left Michael speechless. Richard was going to be an extremely dangerous quantity one day, so long as he learned when to share, and when not to share, the profits of his formidable powers of observation.

More excerpts at Rainbow snippets.
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And according to the inimitable Chris Quinton, who had a gander at it today, it's likely Roman. My day is made.

roman pot
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Yesterday we went to see 'Dunkirk'. Verdict? A great film, but it won't be to everyone's taste.

The cinematography was stunning, especially the Spitfire sequences - and the Merlin engine noise was spot on, as was the soft, bright early summer light you get on the Channel coast. The acting was brilliantly understated, and the casting of relative unknowns as the soldiers being rescued was a stroke of genius, because it eliminated any sense of 'Oh, he has to survive, because he's played by x'. The construction of the film is clever (although that's one of the bits which not everyone will like) with three storylines playing concurrently then converging at one point chronologically and geographically, although the timescales covered in the film are different. One hour in the air, one day at sea, several days on the beach.

If you're expecting a Hollywood style representation of war and heroics, you'll be disappointed. This film tries to show how it was, rather than how a scriptwriter might have liked it to be. I shall watch it again. And again.
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You know how you sometimes are blown away by a bit of cover art? That's how I feel about the artwork for Count the Shells, which you can see exclusively today at The Novel Approach.

The mood that cover produces really suits the novel, which has more than a touch of the Gothic.
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Popping off my mystery writer hat and bunging on the romance author one - Count the Shells, my historical story in the Porthkennack universe, is available for pre-order with a cracking combo deal. And the cover reveal is tomorrow at The Novel Approach (which I'll link to when I return - no doubt a blubbering wreck - from seeing "Dunkirk".)

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.
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And it's a real tear jerker.

Ronald is dead; and we shall watch no more
His swerving swallow-flight adown the field 

From RWPP Killed in the trenches by Alfred Ollivant.

Read the entire text here.
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I've got two blog tours coming up over the next few months - Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour and Count the Shells. I'm already drafting blog posts, and wondered if any of you lovely peeps wanted me to cover particular stuff in one of them. Bits about writing, or these stories, or my characters, or anything? 
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Available for pre-order! The Cambridge boys are back, with a real conundrum to deal with.

“And hopefully by tomorrow we’ll be well rested, with our wits ready to tackle anything.”
“Indeed. The game, as Henry the fifth so memorably said before your ‘favourite’ detective stole the phrase, is afoot.”
Orlando, groaning at the reference to Holmes, whom he loathed, swatted his lover with a convenient newspaper, and turned his attention to the fire. Jonty, delighted at Orlando’s change of heart regarding the case, took out the cups and thermos to soak them overnight, and then headed for the stairs.
A case, a palpable case. And if they ended up finding Owens innocent, how impressive would that look?

Plenty more extracts at Rainbow Snippets FB group.

LessonsMurderousSepia800
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A real milestone for the Cochranes this week when our youngest girl graduated from University. I have to confess that tears were shed among the smiles. Don’t tempus blooming fugit?

News

The big news is that “Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour” is now available for pre-order,  with a release date of August 14th. At present, it’s only going to be out as an e-book as it’s novella length, but here’s a question: would any of you lovely lot be interested in a print version? Please let me know, as I’m gauging interest.

I keep being asked when the first eight Cambridge Fellows books will be available again, but at present I don’t have a definite date. Books 9 through 12 are still out, from Riptide, (you can buy all four at a discount) and book one is in audio version. And don’t forget there is a pile of free Jonty & Orlando stories (among others) at my website.

If you’re in the Sussex area, and you fancy coming and annoying me, I’ll be at the Meet the Authors event on the afternoon of August 9th, at the Selsey Centre. The Deadly Dames will also be appearing at a U3A event in Selsey later in the year. No comments about how that’s the right age range for us! We’re also putting our Damely feelers out for appearances in 2018. More news when we have it.

And finally, en route to the graduation, we stopped in Sidmouth. Stunning flowers!

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I'm delighted to announce that Jonty and Orlando have started to talk to their official biographer (me) once more, having been annoyingly silent these past couple of years. And, in their loquacious manner, they've told me one entirely new story and are bending my ear with another. These will, I hope, be the start of a series of novella length mysteries.

The first Cambridge Fellows Mystery short is 'Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour' and it's available for pre-order now with an August 14th release date. I'll be blethering on about it between now and then but for the moment here's the blurb:

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

LessonsMurderousSepia800
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Here's a snippet from Awfully Glad, which concerns what happens to a certain WWI concert party performer when he hangs up his girdle.

“Mr. Hines, isn’t it?”
“Sorry, I was miles away.” Sam came up from daydreams of men he’d known in khaki—and fancied seeing out of it—to find his new client, Browne, hovering.
“I hope you don’t do that when you’re tending my little flock of investments.” Browne smiled, dark eyes flashing.
“I promise I always have my mind entirely on the job when it’s supposed to be.” Sam indicated the empty chair at his table, manners taking precedence over the small voice in his head with its question about what Browne was doing here. “Will you join me?”
“Why not?” Browne parked himself, then beckoned a waiter over. “What are you having?”
“Another glass of claret, I think.” Food and the club would have to wait. “I’ve not seen you here before,” Sam added, once the order was in.
“No, not my usual stamping ground. My father used to come here a lot, which is why I avoided the place. No,” Browne added, rather hastily, “it wasn’t like that. We got on very well. Just both had our own lives to lead outside of home.”
“Quite. Very sensible.” Sam wondered what stories lay behind that arrangement.

Plenty more excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.

Awfully Glad final cover small
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The answer to that and other questions is over at my Elm Books interview. Better still, Undeath and the Detective (including my short story, Secrets) is among the books on offer this month at Smashwords.

 
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So delighted to have George here today on the eve's eve of his release day for Up in the Air.


When you were last at my blog we chatted about watching your first story fledge. What does it feel like this time round?


Scarier! I was published in Anthologies before, so I didn't feel the pressure because there were other stories around mine. This time it's just me, so I am excited but scared to see what people will think. This story is also the first in a series, as I knew I wanted to write more about the guys. So I have a whole series planned which features the two main characters in this novella, James and Darren, and then the next story out will be James' best friend, Max and his adventures.


What do you think you've learned since you were first published?


I've learnt to stand up for my characters and story, but also listen to the feedback I receive. I've been very lucky to work with great editors and beta readers who've helped me strengthen my writing. Each time I get edits and comments back I read through them, let them settle then go back to read them again. I'll admit to scoffing at some things, but then appreciating the changes suggested. I've also been adamant at keeping things that feel right to me, not just because I want them there, but because it will be more relevant to the story later on.


GeorgeLoveland


What inspired the latest book?


This story came from an exercise in a NaNoWriMo book called 'Ready, Set, Novel'. I had to write a list of 20 items that I loved, then pick three out of a hat. I picked flying, kissing and mountains. I've flown a lot for my job to Johannesburg, and the idea of a passenger nearly missing a flight and then falling for an air steward came to me.


Did you know where 'Up in the Air' was going from the start or did it take an unexpected turn?


This story, and the subsequent stories in the series, have been in my mind for years. So the general plot has been there and I knew what was going to happen. However the journey the characters take has often led me to wonder who the writer is. They go their own way sometimes and I love how things evolve. Sometimes they do things I don't want them to, but I usually let it flow and see what happens. What I've discovered is that when something doesn't work in one place, it will usually work in another area of the story, so the characters usually get their own way.


Have you ever been writing and discovered something totally unexpected about one of your characters?


In this story, there's a scene in the hotel restaurant at breakfast, where at the end Darren said something which had me chuckling. It also showed another side of him which I hadn't expected to see. It was sweet and made me love him even more.


Which book do you wish you'd written and why?


Oh my gosh - I don't know if I could. I love to read and one of the things writing has taught me, is to appreciate how much goes into writing a book and the author's themselves. That said, The Signs of the Zodiac series by Vicki Petterson would be one! She is an amazing writer and the world she created is so rich, I'd love to have her talent and written those stories. Also, Sean Kennedy and his Tigers and Devils series, I've read them countless times and love the characters and world he has built too.



Have you got a secret you'd be willing to share?


I think I am quite open, and I probably post more on Facebook than I should! How about I was the boys dancing champion back in the day ... I think I was seven or eight. I remember looking around my competition and watching them copying me, which didn't make sense. However, I won and I still have the photo - somewhere! I wore this red trouser and white shirt combo my mum made me! I looked fab!


Thanks for dropping by, toots, and good luck with the book!


Johannesburg

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Looking forward to the afternoon of Wednesday 9th August - Meet the Authors at Selsey Centre. If you're nearby, do come and say hello.
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this recent one for Awfully Glad made me very happy:

The amount of information and the depth of plot in this short story is remarkable--a Charlie Cochrane specialty that draws you in an doesn't let you go.

Awfully Glad final cover small

 
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Then nip over to RJs release event where she's got a load of guests bearing gifts. Comment here with the name of your fave sportsman for a chance of winning a copy of my Olympic swimming romance Tumble Turn.

Tumble_Turn_Front_Cover_3_12_2012_4_PM

 
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At Twickenham, there's a painting based on a photo of the England rugby team just pre-war. The red roses of those who died have been greyed. One of these chaps (scrum cap in the back row, I think) is Arthur Harrison, or - to give his rank - Lieutenant Commander Arthur Leyland Harrison VC.

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That VC was posthumous, gained in the raid on Zeebrugge, which he'd volunteered for. A notice pinned at Scapa Flow had asked for single, athletic men to put their names down for 'a show' and Harrison had taken up the challenge. He was killed leading his men along a parapet under machine gun fire; that wonderful lantern jaw had already been smashed by a shell.
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Been a while since I posted done of these; must get back into better habits. Here's a bit of flirting from Broke Deep.

“Come in, you bloody idiot.”
“Do I still deserve a cup of tea? I’m parched.” Dominic dumped his bags in the hallway.
“I’m not sure you do, after that remark about how I look. I’ve been working hard to make myself presentable.” That was a lie, a flirtatious lie; Morgan felt strangely elated.
“You don’t need to work at that. You’d be presentable at three o’clock in the morning, stumbling out of a club and into the gutter.”
“I’m not sure that’s a compliment, either.” Morgan rolled his eyes. “But I’ll take it.”
“I seem to be talking myself out of that cup of tea.” Dominic hung his head in mock shame.
“You are such a plonker.” Morgan ushered them into the kitchen, before busying himself with kettle and pot and all the paraphernalia. “Did you get anything to eat last night?”

Read more excerpts at the Rainbow Snippet group.

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