Sam’s Sunday Supplement #16

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #16, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

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Many thanks to all the readers who have placed Sam’s Song at #2 on the Amazon private investigators chart this weekend. Sam’s Song has reached #1 on three separate occasions and #2 on five separate occasions 😃
Also this week, Janet Evanovich has been promoting her new book on my Sam Song Amazon page, which I think is a great compliment, and I’m pleased to say that this week the Sam Smith Mystery Series registered its first sales in Brazil.

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Sam has been on Margam Mountain in Digging in the Dirt. Here is a view from the mountain, of Margam Castle and its country park.

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I have been researching the Victorian era for many years and in the near future I hope to write a mystery series set in 1888. This series will run alongside the Sam Smith Mystery Series and Ann’s War. I have set up a Facebook page to feature my research. If you are interested, here is the link: Facebook
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And to close, a thought for the week

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #15

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #15, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twelve, is mainly set in Kenfig, which is now a huge expanse of sand dunes on the South Wales coast. During medieval times, Kenfig was one of the largest towns in Wales. However, a series of sand storms during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries forced the burgesses to relocate elsewhere, and they established a number of smaller settlements. Around 1450 the sand had encroached to such an extent that the town was abandoned. The area became a sand covered Pompeii and it has fascinated historians and antiquarians for centuries. This picture shows antiquarian Edward Donovan visiting Kenfig and the remains of its castle in 1804.

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Ever fancied piloting a plane? This clip shows a pilot’s eye view of a Skyranger landing at Margam airfield, a location in Sam #12, Digging in the Dirt

Great news. My narrator, Suzan Lynn Lorraine, has completed the recording of Secrets and Lies and the audio book has been sent to ACX for publication on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Even better news is that Suzan has agreed to narrate Family Honour, the next book in the series, and future audio books. Exciting times 😃

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The Royal Ordinance Factory at Bridgend, known locally as the Arsenal, will feature in Ann’s War. The Arsenal was the largest of sixteen Royal Ordnance Factories in Britain during the Second World War. Vital to Britain’s war effort, the Arsenal employed 40,000 people, most of them women, and is regarded as the largest factory in Britain’s history. The picture shows workers leaving the Arsenal at the end of their shift.

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A contemporary local scene – Llanmihangel – from Ann’s War. During the Second World War farmers were encouraged to plant crops and raise milking cattle, so sheep and other farm animals went into decline.

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Telephone directories were a lot thinner in 1944, and phone numbers a lot shorter. Ann had a three digit number, which was common for the time.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #14

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #14, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Sam was in Margam this week in Digging in the Dirt. Margam contains many famous landmarks and attractive features including the Orangery at Margam Park, the longest Orangery in Europe, pictured here in 1850. Also pictured, the actor Anthony Hopkins, born at 77 Wern Road, Margam, and Peg Entwistle, a Broadway actress who sadly jumped to her death from the Hollywood sign in 1932. Peg was born in Margam in 1908.
Ann Morgan’s wedding dress, from Ann’s War, made from parachute silk. Strictly speaking, during the war it was illegal to make clothing from scraps of parachute silk. Nevertheless, women did make their own wedding dresses and underwear.

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Porthcawl, a seaside town 25 miles west of Cardiff, has featured in my books Ripper, Family Honour and Sins of the Father. This poster, issued by a railway company to entice people from the valleys to travel to the seaside, c1930, shows the promenade at Porthcawl. This view will feature in Ann’s War.

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The Sam Smith Mystery Series is based in Cardiff Bay. For much of the Victorian era and twentieth century Cardiff Bay was known as Tiger Bay, and in the 1950s Tiger Bay was the setting for a classic film. You can read my article on the film here and watch the full movie on the link below.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

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Mind Games is published today, as a paperback and eBook. This story centres on Sasha Pryce, a young chess player. Chess is featured in the book, but the story is about family relationships and the many aspects of love. Amazon Link

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Digging in the Dirt starts with Sam and Faye sitting outside their office houseboat on a hot August day. They are looking towards Cardiff Bay, known in the Victorian era and throughout the twentieth century as Tiger Bay. Much of the land around Tiger Bay was owned by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (pictured). In the late Victorian era John Crichton-Stuart was regarded as the richest man in the world. That wealth came from exploiting the great mineral wealth of the South Wales Valleys and exporting it via Cardiff Docks. Through their business acumen and philanthropy the Butes are rightly regarded as the founding fathers of modern Cardiff.

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Ann’s War is a mystery series set against the social history backdrop of the Second World War. Ann Morgan, the reluctant detective in the series, is fictitious. However, she is loosely based on real women of the period. For example, in the 1940s Melodie Walsh established herself as a private detective. Melodie Walsh’s father was a close friend of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Initially, Melodie worked as an actress – along with modelling, a middle-class career path for young women in the 1930s – before establishing her agency. Her bread and butter tasks included divorces and writ-serving, although glamorous assignments also presented themselves – on one occasion, Melodie went undercover as a model to foil a series of fur thefts. With her father’s social connections, Melodie was in demand, hired by people who wished to gain information while avoiding a scandal. In the 1940s, private detective work was still predominantly a male profession. However, through the likes of Melodie Walsh women were beginning to assert themselves.

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Betrayal, the first story in Ann’s War, starts on Friday, 24th March 1944. On that night this remarkable event occurred. Twenty-one-year-old Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade survived – without a parachute – a fall of 18,000 feet when his Avro Lancaster aircraft was shot down over Schmallenberg (pictured). Alkemade’s fall was broken by pine trees and soft snow. Despite the fall of 18,000 feet he only suffered a sprained leg.
The Gestapo captured Alkemade and interviewed him. Initially, they refused to believe his story. However, after examining the remains of the Lancaster they realized that he was telling the truth.
Alkemade spent the rest of the war as a celebrated prisoner of war. He was repatriated in May 1945.

 

Hannah Interviews Paulette Mahurin

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the third in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For this interview I am delighted to welcome Paulette Mahurin. Paulette is an Amazon #1 author who donates her royalties to rescue dogs. Over to Paulette and I hope you enjoy the interview.

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What are your favourite qualities in a man?
Honesty, sense of humor, good health habits, good communicator and listener.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
Same as in a man.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Balance in give and take. Ability to communicate constructively, effectively, and honestly.

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What is your main fault?
I take things too personally. Oversensitive.
What is your favourite pastime?
Being with family and my dogs, quality time with friends, reading, writing, doing my professional job as a Nurse Practitioner, and volunteer work.
What is your idea of happiness?
Being okay with whatever is happening. Accepting the hand I’m dealt. I may not be able to change it but can I change my attitude about it and find something to be grateful about.

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If not yourself, who would you be?
I’m okay with who I am and don’t dwell on being someone else. Like Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
What is your favourite colour and flower?
Green and I love most flowers, especially natural and wild in nature.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians?
Too many to pick favorites. So many different categories, time periods in history, and ways of expressing. I appreciate talent in any field. And there has never been a lack of talent.

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Who are your favourite prose authors and poets?
Again, too many to enumerate on one, two, or a few. There is a lot of great talent out there from the well-known to the independents struggling to be read.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
The ones that are real, and balanced, and don’t necessarily overcome all the great odds but certainly give it their best. One I can relate to, one that I can read and feel he is organic and authentic.
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?
Again same as in heroes. And I might add for both not a stereotypical cast character, one that has flaws and emulates the human condition realistically.

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Thank you, Paulette. You can learn more about Paulette’s award-winning books and charity work by visiting her Amazon page.

 

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #12

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #12, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Mind Games has been uploaded to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords. Book eleven in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, Mind Games is available as an eBook for $0.99/£0.99/€0.99 and for £2.99 in print. Many thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy; your support is greatly appreciated Amazon Link

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In Digging in the Dirt, a story about archaeologists, Sam ventures into a cave. One of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries in Wales was unearthed in a cave, Goat’s Hole Cave, on the Gower Peninsula. In January 1823 the Rev. William Buckland found The Red Lady of Paviland (pictured). Buckland identified the remains as female. However, later analysis established that the bones belonged to a man who lived in Britain 33,000 years ago. The skeleton, dyed in red ochre, represents the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe.

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Great news…Suzan Lynn Lorraine, narrator of my Sam Smith Mystery Series, is very keen to narrate Ann’s War as well. So we are aiming to publish the Ann’s War stories in print, as eBooks and audio books 😃

World War Two. England. 1938. The family at home, tuning in to hear the news on the radio news. They have gas masks at the ready.

The Third Man is arguably the finest British film ever made. Orson Welles dominates the film even though he only appears in ten percent of the running time. You can read more about that in my article on this cinema classic The Third Man

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From the Illustrated Police News, 8 February 1896, Saucy Burglar Robs Amorous Honeymoon Couple! Read all about it!

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Hannah Interviews Denise McCabe

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the second in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For this interview I am delighted to welcome Denise McCabe, an author of children’s fiction, a thoughtful blogger and a wonderful person. Over to Denise and I hope you will enjoy the interview.

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What are your favourite qualities in a man?
The most attractive thing I find in a man is someone who can make me laugh. Also confident in themselves and treat you as an equal.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
Strong, independent. Ones who support and don’t feel the need to compete against each other and who is up for a bit of fun.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Loyalty and knowing they will be there for me no matter what. One who I can be comfortable with and tell absolutely anything to and I know they’ll keep it with them and they won’t judge me.
What is your main fault?
How long have you got! I suppose I am quite impatient. I tend to start things and if I don’t get hang of straight away I walk on to the next. There are times I can jump into things too quick, and while sometimes it can work out, others it’s “Oh dear, maybe, just maybe should have given that one a few more moments of thinking!”
What is your favourite pastime?
Reading, listening to music and of course writing. One of my goals is to get into song writing, I love Irish ballads so currently I’m trying my hand at that.
What is your idea of happiness?
Having a good balance of life and not getting bogged down by things that are out of your control. Enjoying the now and accepting what you have. While I have my hopes and dreams, sometimes it can be just the simple things in life like chilling out in the park joining in playing with the kids, listening to a favourite song and having good positive people around me who I can just have a good chat and a laugh with.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Hard one to answer as so many people admire through the ages for various reasons, so if I was to be someone for a while maybe, as I’ve always been fascinated with the thoughts of other life existing out there so would love to be an astronaut for a bit to see if I could discover other planets, other life.
What is your favourite colour and flower?
Baby blue and sunflowers.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians?
I listen to all genres of music from classical to modern heavy metal, depends on the mood I’m in but one of my favourite singers would be Stevie Nicks.
Who are your favourite prose authors and poets?
I like some of James Joyce’s works. I’m not really a fan of poetry to be honest but I do like some from Maya Angelou as I admire her as a person the way she overcame a great deal of adversity and inspired so many people.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
I suppose one I would have just finished recently would be Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway as it was a story about courage and determination and despite his age he embraced his inner struggles to prove a point to himself, he never gave up wanting to catch that fish!

Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?

Top of my head would be Listbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson Girl with Dragon Tattoo books, young complex girl with her dark troubled past and prodigious skill for hacking, she turns lethal vigilante PI and uses her skills to expose corruption and to pay back those who wronged her.
Thank you, Denise. To learn more about Denise and her books please visit her website and Amazon page.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #11

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #11, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

The Sam Smith Mystery Series is based in Cardiff. Here is a view of Cardiff Bay. At present, Sam is working from a houseboat. Her office houseboat is moored to the right of this picture, on the River Taff.

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I am researching background material for my 1944-5 mini-series. Although cars were rare in country areas during the Second World War, and petrol was rationed, my heroine, Ann Morgan, will have access to a vehicle because her husband is a flight lieutenant in the RAF seconded to M15, the security service. The Morgan’s car will be this stylish 1938 Jensen S-type. Anyone fancy a ride! 😃

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Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carry the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books.
An all-male cast, filmed in one room, no special effects…focus groups would never allow this film to be made today, yet it is spellbinding. Twelve Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon (see below) were directed by Sidney Lumet. The films receive a mention in my book, Mind Games, which incidentally is on course to break the record for pre-orders in the Sam Smith Mystery Series.

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Three posters from Dog Day Afternoon, one of my favourite films, and a film that has influenced my writing. There is a realistic feel to this movie enhanced by the natural interaction between the characters, the lighting and the ad-libbed lines, including the classic Wyoming line. Al Pacino is outstanding, and that can be said for all of the cast. Cinema doesn’t get any better than this.
An interesting insight into the creation of a detective series.

If you would like to follow Ann’s War, my Second World War mini series, on Facebook please follow this link Ann’s War

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Hannah Interviews Ellie Midwood

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the first in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For the first interview I am delighted to welcome the award-winning, bestselling historical novelist Ellie Midwood. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait. Ellie’s books have been recognized by the New Apple Awards and Readers’ Favourite Awards. Over to Ellie, and I hope you will enjoy the interview.

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What are your favourite qualities in a man? – I like the so-called type A men: driven, hard-working, always trying to improve themselves; who are passionate about what they do; who can be both sensitive and yet firm and who of course will treat their girlfriend/spouse as an equal partner.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman? – Same as in a man, actually, haha 🙂 I like women who are strong, independent and can stand for themselves.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends? – Our discussions about history and politics that last for hours; that we challenge each other and help each other broaden our horizons; that they’re incredibly sweet, honest people; that we always have each other’s back; and that they don’t get mad if we don’t speak for weeks when I’m on my writing spree 🙂
What is your main fault? – Arrogance, I’d say. Every Leo’s fault, I have to note in my defense 🙂
What is your favourite pastime? – It’s simple: reading, writing, doing my research and yoga.
What is your idea of happiness? – In a physical sense – a remote cabin somewhere in the Alps with no people around where I can write my novels while enjoying the nature. In a more vague sense – if all people would stop fighting for their ideas and live in peace without trying to impose their laws/ideas/policies etc on everyone else. Simple like that, just living and minding their own business and contributing to the society in which everyone can coexist peacefully. That would be my ultimate idea of happiness.
If not yourself, who would you be? – Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’m perfectly happy with my life/career choice/time that I live in etc. Maybe I could remain myself but travel back to the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s though? That would be amazing, because I’ve always been fascinated with that period of time.
What is your favourite colour and flower? – The flower is easy: I adore lilies! As for the color, it’s a tricky question. To wear, I love black, white and blush; I prefer gray/white colors for the interior of my apartment; and I like blue just to look at. So it depends I guess.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians? – I love French Impressionism, so all the painters belonging to the movement would be among my favorites. As for musicians, I love classical music, so Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and other composers are on my permanent “to listen” list 🙂
Who are your favourite prose authors and poets? – I can’t enumerate all of them because the list will be too long, haha! Russian classics writers of course: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky; Irene Nemirovsky and her wonderful novels about France; Fitzgerald and his incredibly beautiful language; Nabokov; Hemingway; Maupassant; Remarque – I really can go on and on! I’m not that much into poetry to be honest, but Charles Baudelaire wrote poems about quite unorthodox ideas for his time that I loved.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction? – Elie Wiesel’s protagonists both in “Dawn” and “Day”. Those were novels unlike “Night”, so they considered to be fictional characters, however he wrote them with such raw emotion and feeling that I couldn’t stop thinking about them long after I finished both stories.
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction? – The “Anonymous” protagonist from “A Woman in Berlin” that tells a story of the atrocious rape of Berlin by the Red Army in 1945. That was actually a real diary of a real woman, and that made me admire her willpower and strength even more. I love tortured, broken characters who went through hell in their lives and yet remained so incredibly human. Those are my personal heroes.
Thank you, Ellie. You can learn more about Ellie’s books by following this Amazon link.

 

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Mind Games has been edited and proofread, and the manuscript will be uploaded to Amazon next week. The book is currently available for pre-order and will be published on the 3rd June 2017. A print version will also be made available. All my books are in print and available at discount prices through the Goylake Publishing link on the Amazon product pages.

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I have been having fun this week casting actors and accesses from the 1940s in roles for my 1944-5 mini-series. So far, I have found parts for Gene Tierney (pictured), Joseph Cotton, Dana Andrews, Judith Anderson, Mary Astor, Vincent Price, Trevor Howard and Clifton Webb 😃
One of the chapters in Digging in the Dirt is set in Victoria Park, Cardiff (pictured). As the name suggests, the park was named after Queen Victoria and was created to celebrate her sixty years on the throne. The park also contains a sculpture of Billy the Seal who lived from 1912 to 1939 in what is now the paddling pool. Apparently, Billy got tangled in a trawler’s net and was rescued at Cardiff Docks. Billy was popular with the locals and they were saddened when he died in 1939. However, upon Billy’s death it was discovered that he was a she, and maybe should have been called Billie.

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There are several Second World War strands to Digging in the Dirt. One of those strands is loosely based on the life of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade a remarkable woman who in her early thirties became head of the French underground intelligence network, “The Alliance”. The Alliance’s assignment was to gather information about German troop and naval movements and logistics inside France, and transmit this intelligence to Britain, using a network of clandestine radio transmitters and couriers. It was extremely dangerous work. Many of Fourcade’s closest associates were captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo. Some, however, escaped, including Fourcade herself, on two occasions. On the first occasion, 10th November 1942, she was arrested with her staff, but escaped to London. After returning to France she was captured a second time. Her second escape was more harrowing: in the small hours of the morning, she forced her petite body between the bars of a cell window. At the conclusion of the war, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was decorated for her outstanding contribution in the fight against fascism.

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In general, I tend to prefer books to movies. However, with the Maltese Falcon I prefer the movie to the book. One of the finest detective films ever made.

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #9

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #9, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Last weekend Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon.com private investigators chart, the third time in nine months that the book has reached #1. Once again, many thanks to everyone who has read Sam’s Song.

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I am storyboarding a mini series of five novellas set in 1944-5. The series will feature five mysteries with an overall story arc for the main characters. The timeframe includes the D-Day landings, the Welsh Great Escape when 67, 70 or 84 – depending on your sources – German POWs escaped from Island Farm POW camp in Bridgend, and the Victory in Europe celebrations. Pictured, Field Marshall von Runstedt, General Blumentritt, General Heinrici and Field Marshall von Kleist arriving at Bridgend Railway Station en route to Island Farm after attending the Nuremburg war crimes trials.

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Here is a sneak preview of the cover for A Parcel of Rogues, book thirteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This story will centre around a murder investigation. I have a new cover designer and I’m delighted with the covers. Indeed, this cover actually suggested a plotline for the book, which is why I like to have my covers in place before I write.

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In Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the series, Sam and another character discuss the poems of Dylan Thomas, including this one, Fern Hill, read majestically here by Richard Burton.
One of my hobbies is genealogy and I’ve traced my family tree back to the mid 1600s. So far, I have not come across any Scottish ancestors or bike manufacturers. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share this lovely picture with you.

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support. More news next week.

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #8

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #8, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Another exciting week. This week Sam’s Song reached #2 on the Amazon.com private investigators chart and #11 on the Amazon Germany mystery chart. Many thanks to everyone who has read the book.
This week I completed the storyboard for Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery #12. The archaeological dig that will feature in Digging in the Dirt takes place at two sites, Kenfig and Stormy Down. During the Second World War, Stormy Down was an airfield for allied airmen, including airmen from Poland and other countries in occupied Europe. One of the archaeologists, Jana, has Polish ancestors, so the dig is especially poignant for her. Pictured, a Miles Martinet, foreground, and Avro Anson, two of the aeroplanes based at R.A.F. Stormy Down.

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I’m looking into the possibility of writing a number of mini series alongside the Sam Smith Mystery Series. These series will feature private detectives from different eras, from Victorian times and the Second World War, for example. Each series will include five individual stories, each containing a mystery, while the complete story arc will reveal the main character’s story. I hope to make these stories available FREE to subscribers of my newsletter. In the coming weeks I will be upgrading my newsletter through Author Reach and will post details here.

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Recently, I came across this movie poster for Laura, one of my top ten films. As you can see from the poster, Laura is an elegant movie, which tells an original and absorbing story. Highly recommended.
As ever, thank you for your interest and support. More news next week.

 

 

 

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #7

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #7, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

The editing of Mind Games, book eleven in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, is now complete and the book is on schedule for publication on 3rd June 2017. Mind Games can be pre-ordered for $0.99, €0.99, £0.99. With the editing complete I have stepped up my research for Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the series.
One of the chapters in Digging in the Dirt will be set at Lavernock on the South Wales coast. On the 13th May 1897, Guglielmo Marconi, assisted by a local man, George Kemp, transmitted and received the first wireless signals over open sea between Lavernock Point and Flat Holm Island.
In Morse code Marconi transmitted the message, “Are you ready?” He received the reply, “Can you hear me?” And responded, “Yes, loud and clear.”
The recording slip for the first message is on display at the National Museum of Wales. Pictured here, Guglielmo Marconi, post office engineers with Marconi’s equipment, Lavernock Point and the island of Flat Holm.
More news about Digging in the Dirt. I have a new cover designer and I’m very pleased with this draft cover they have created for the story.

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Faye Collister, Sam’s friend and assistant, features in Mind Games and Digging in the Dirt. Readers of my series will know that Faye has a number of issues, including an obsessive compulsive disorder. This link might help you if you have friends or family who suffer with OCD Psychology Today
One of the inspirations for the Sam Smith Mystery Series is The Rockford Files starring my favourite actor James Garner. A highlight of The Rockford Files was the telephone answering machine messages at the start of each episode, including this one from The Trees, the Bees and T.T. Flowers…Jimmy, old buddy-buddy – it’s Angel. You know how they allow you one phone call? Well, this is it.

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support. More news next week.

 

Sam’s Easter Supplement

Welcome to Sam’s Easter Supplement, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

This week, I have been researching material for Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This story is centred on an archaeological dig, which takes place in Kenfig, a vast expanse of sand dunes along the South Wales coast. The photographs show a small section of the sand dunes, a real-life dig conducted there in 2011 and an army camp. The army camp was created by American soldiers who arrived in the dunes to prepare for D-Day in 1945. My fictional dig will feature this army camp.
I’m delighted to say that Sam’s Song is still in the top five of the Amazon private detective chart. I’m also delighted to see that Amazon have linked my books with Robert B Parker, one of the greats of the private detective genre. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you read Promised Land, a modern classic.

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And while we are on the subject of great writers here is Kurt Vonnegut offering sage advice on the craft if storytelling. In this five minute film Kurt Vonnegut explains the essence of storytelling. Within the humour of the film is a basic truth, which Vonnegut used to great effect in his novels. Also, here is one of many quotable quotes from the great author.
“If you want to really hurt your parents, go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
 
If you have read any of my books, especially Sam’s Song, you will know that the subject of ‘gaslighting’ is featured. Here is some sound advice on this sensitive subject Psychology Today
As ever, thank you for your interest and support. More news next week.
Happy Easter!

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #6

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #6, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Sam’s Sunday Supplement takes on a different format this week because yesterday, 7th April, Many Books featured me as their Author of the Day 😃 I would like to invite you to read the in-depth interview, which includes details about me and my writing habits, background on Sam and the Sam Smith Mystery Series, and our plans for the future. I hope you will find a moment to read the interview, which can be found here Many Books

One other piece of exiting news this week – this weekend Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon Australia private detective chart. Once again, many thanks to you for your interest and support. More news next week.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #5

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #5, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Yesterday, April 1st, was Sam’s birthday and to help her celebrate Sam’s Song reached #3 on the Amazon private detective chart. I’m also very proud to make this list…Robert B Parker #15, Marcia Muller #17, Hannah Howe #22, James Patterson #25, Max Allan Collins #48 Amazon’s hot new releases 😃 This relates to Mind Games, which is now available for pre-order. Please click on the book cover on the sidebar for the Amazon link.

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As usual, Sam has been wandering the streets of Cardiff this week. She also ventured to Monmouth. The Romans established a fort in Monmouth and a thousand years later the Normans built a castle there. The House of Lancaster took possession of the castle and, in 1387, King Henry V was born there. One of Monmouth’s claims to fame is its medieval stone-gated bridge, pictured, the only one of its type remaining in Britain.

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While researching details about Cardiff Docks I stumbled across the following information, along with this fascinating film clip, which offers a flavour of the docks in 1926. In relation to women, 420 prostitutes worked the docks in 1860, while during the Edwardian era local women had the back-breaking job of unloading sacks of potatoes. During the Second World War women served as porters, wheeling trollies to and from the warehouses.

Mind Games features a young female chess player, though chess is incidental to the book and you don’t need any knowledge of the game to enjoy the story. That said, chess is full of interesting characters including Vera Menchik, the first women’s world champion. Vera defeated many male grandmasters including world champion Max Euwe. Sadly, Vera died in 1944 during a Nazi air raid.

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Mind Games also features a storyline about Faye, Sam’s assistant. If you have read the books in the series you will know that Faye has endured a difficult relationship with her mother. This link might help people in a similar situation  Psychology Today
I would like to end this week with these beautiful words. More news next week. As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #4

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #4, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

A highlight of recent months has been a growing readership in France for the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This week, Smoke and Mirrors, Sins of the Father and Stardust all featured in the top thirty of Amazon France’s female sleuths chart. Furthermore, Stardust was ranked #5 in the new releases 😃

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As usual, Sam has been wandering the mean streets of Cardiff this week. She also attended a dog show. Did you know that there are 339 breeds of dog?

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Sam also wandered close to the River Rhymney, which brought to mind Idris Davies’ poem, Gwalia Deserta, later set to music as The Bells of Rhymney by Pete Seeger and performed here by the Oysterband. Idris Davies’ poem was inspired by the 1926 General Strike and by the abusive policies of the mine owners. Dedicated to my coalmining ancestors.
Oh what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.
Is there hope for the future?
Say the brown bells of Merthyr.
Who made the mine owners?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.
Who killed the miners?
Say the grim bells of Blaina.
They’ll plunder willy-nilly,
Say the bells of Caerphilly.
They have fangs, they have teeth,
Shout the loud bells of Neath.
Even God is weary,
Say the moist bells of Swansea.
What will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.
Put the vandals in court,
Shout the loud bells of Newport.
All will be well if, if, if,
Say the green bells of Cardiff.
Why so worried, sisters, why?
Say the silver bells of Wye.
What will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.
Oh, what will you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.
Is there hope for the future?
Say the brown bells of Merthyr.
Who made the mine owners?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.
Who killed the miners?
Say the grim bells of Blaina.
Who killed the miners?
Who killed the miners?
Who killed the miners?
Who killed the miners?

One of the characters Sam encountered this week suffered from the compulsion to self-harm. If you have friends or relatives in a similar situation this article might help them and you Psychology Today

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I have been fortunate enough to receive some wonderful five-star reviews, including this one, this week, for Sam’s Song.
“I so enjoyed getting to know Sam Smith, a private investigator with an abundance of wit and compassion despite her past. Sam’s Song is well-written and contains vivid descriptions of the characters and settings. While the story touches on some difficult topics (drug and alcohol use, violence against women and children) there are no overly graphic scenes. Mixed in are some laughs as well as a blossoming romance that keep the overall feel of the book fairly light. This is the beginning of a series and I look forward to seeing how Sam’s character develops.”
As ever, thank you for your support. More news next week.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #3

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #3, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Due to an office fire in Smoke and Mirrors, Sam is now working out of a houseboat moored in Cardiff Bay. Where did this idea come from? Possibly a combination of DVD research watching 1980s and 1990s detective series Shoestring and Van Der Valk where boats appeared constantly, and the fact that Sam is never keen to board a floating vessel. A maxim of the series is, make things as difficult as possible for Sam. I bet she loves me for it 😉

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Mind Games, book eleven in the series, focuses on unrequited love. In the picture Dante looks longingly at Beatrice Portinari (in yellow) as she passes him with Lady Vanna (in red). From Dante and Beatrice, by Henry Holiday, 1883. Beatrice was the principal inspiration for Dante’s Vita Nuova.
According to the Roman poet, Ovid, those burdened with unrequited love should travel, avoid alcohol, engage in country pursuits and, ironically, stay well clear of love poets (!)

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Readers of my series will know that Sam, my narrator, suffered a traumatic childhood. However, research now shows that her difficult childhood is one reason why she developed into the strong woman she is today. You can read more about that research here Psychology Today
This week Mind Games took Sam to Cardiff University and the heart of the city. Founded in 1883, the university holds many claims to fame, including the fact that they allowed women to enrol as students and, in 1910, appointed Millicent Mackenzie as the first female professor at a fully chartered British university. Millicent Mackenzie, pictured in 1915, wrote on the philosophy of education, founded the Cardiff branch of the Suffragette movement and became the only female candidate in Wales for the 1918 general election.
More news next week and, as ever, thank you for your interest.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #2

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #2, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

This week I’ve been following Sam around the Vale of Glamorgan, a picturesque region of Wales. Chapters five to ten of Mind Games are largely set in the Vale, including two chapters set at Nash Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed in 1831, illuminated in 1832 and electrified in 1968. It holds the distinction of being the last manned lighthouse in Wales, before automation in 1998. I’m pleased to say that the writing is going well and that the book is on schedule for publication in June.
I came across this quote from Marcia Muller recently and I can identify with it in relation to Sam.
‘A professional writer’s life is not easy, no matter how high you climb on the best seller lists. For one thing, you work for yourself, and that self is the most demanding boss you’ve ever had. I don’t know about non fiction writers, but those of us who deal in fiction are never left alone by our characters. They haunt you, they tell you what to do. There are times when I feel my detective, Sharon McCone, is sitting on my shoulder, saying, “No, not that. Do this.” Usually she’s right. But I’m waiting for the day I’ll prove her wrong.’

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As you know, my books are based on serious subjects, but I like to insert some humour occasionally. Here are two pieces I posted on social media this week. Both received a terrific response 😃
Definitions from the dubious dictionary…Shinbone, a device for locating furniture in the dark.
How many authors does it take to change a lightbulb?
Ten.
One to change the lightbulb.
Five to say that they’d already thought of the idea for changing the lightbulb, but they didn’t want to go public with it yet.
Four to say that lightbulb changing is old hat and already covered by the literary greats.
Three to complain that with blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc they have no time to change lightbulbs, but they’ll do it anyway.
Two to insist that old technology is best and that the lightbulb will never replace the candle.
And one to figure out that while authors are great with words they are lousy at mathamatics.

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I have joined Author Reach. More news of that in the future, but for now here is the link and an invitation to follow and join my mailing list.
http://hannah-howe.authorreach.com
Also, an invitation to connect with me on my new Facebook page.
https://facebook.com/HannahHoweSamsAuthor
More news next week and, as ever, thank you for your interest.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #1

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement, #1, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

We published Stardust this week, book ten in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, and I’m delighted to say that the book smashed my pre-order record and was included in the Amazon America and Amazon France top fifty hot new releases. Also, this weekend, Smoke and Mirrors, a number three book in France, broke into the Amazon.com top one hundred. Meanwhile, Sam’s Song continues to hold a place in the Amazon top twenty.

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This week, I made a start on Mind Games, book eleven in the series. Mind Games is a love story, ‘of sorts’. If you read the book you will see what I mean. Mind Games centres on Sasha, a young chess player. The book also develops Faye’s story.
I’m delighted to say that Suzan Lynn Lorraine has agreed to narrate Secrets and Lies, her sixth Sam Smith narration. Suzan is a very talented narrator who brings her acting and radio experience to the characters and it’s always a thrill to work with her. We hope to have Secrets and Lies ready for an early summer release.

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Along with a number of experts, we are looking into the prospect of producing a Sam Smith Mystery card game, along with other associated Sam projects. Discussions are at an early stage, but if we can make it happen it would be fun to do. Watch this space.
When you write from life, as I do, you hope to capture a moment of authenticity, to present a situation that people will recognize as true. That’s why I was delighted to receive this five-star review on Amazon: “Super Sleuth. Her (Sam’s) dealings with an abusive ex husband were spot on. Can’t wait to read more.” If you have read a Sam Smith book and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a short, one line, review. It would make a big difference to potential readers, and make my day.
As ever, thank you for your interest and support. More news next week. Meanwhile, remember this 😃

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Books Ten, Eleven and Twelve

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January was an exciting month for the Sam Smith Mystery Series with bumper sales and top twenty chart positions in ten countries, including #1 on the amazon.com private detective chart. February has started well with lots of writing and editing. Currently, I’m polishing the Stardust manuscript for publication on March 1st while working on the outline of Mind Games and developing ideas for Digging in the Dirt.

Mind Games is centred on a chess player, though you don’t need any knowledge of chess to understand the plot. Essentially, Mind Games is a love story, of sorts. If you read the book you will understand what I mean by that statement.

Digging in the Dirt features a murder set in the world of archaeology. One of the subplots to this book might include the story of Alan’s grandparents, and their activities during the Second World War. This strand ties in with the theme of the main story, the way the past affects the present and the future.

As ever, thanks to everyone who’s read a Sam Smith book, and if you haven’t read one yet, here’s a shopping link. Book one, Sam’s Song, is free while the other books in the series are only $0.99/£0.99 each 😃

https://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Howe/e/B00OK7E24E

 

 

January Sales

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January has been a great month for the Sam Smith Mystery Series. During January, Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon.com private detective chart and the top twenty (mysteries) in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Many thanks to everyone who has read one of my books. And a reminder that the series continues with the publication of Stardust on March 1st and Mind Games in the summer.