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.

 

Sam’s Song Promotion

I’m delighted to say that as part of a Sam Smith Mystery Series January promotion, Sam’s Song, book one in the series, is currently available FREE from all major Internet outlets: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords. So if you would like to read the book, please take advantage of this offer. If you have already read the book, thank you, and please consider passing this message on to your friends. https://www.amazon.com/Sams-Song-Smith-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00OHZ151W/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Editing, Writing and Sales

I’m halfway through editing Stardust, book ten in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. The book is on schedule for publication on the 1st March; many thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered the book. Meanwhile, the storyboard for Mind Games, book eleven in the series, is nearly complete and I hope to start on the first draft next week.

Sales of the series continue to go well, particularly in France where, as I write, Smoke and Mirrors is #16 on the Amazon female sleuths chart.

https://www.amazon.fr/gp/bestsellers/english-books/84506011/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_eb_1_4_last

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Stardust Pre-Order

Stardust, book ten in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, will be published on the 1st March 2017. The book is currently available for pre-order at $0.99/£0.99 from Amazon

Hired by multimillionaire Jeremy Loudon, my task was simple – find his missing briefcase. Loudon claimed that his briefcase held ten thousand pounds, his winnings from a poker game. However, as the trail unravelled and led to Europe my suspicions deepened. What was in Loudon’s briefcase, beyond the money? Why was he being so evasive? Why did he insist on no police involvement?

My search for the missing briefcase took me to pimps, pornographers, radical feminists, gun runners and the Red Light District of Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, my investigation held a mirror to my own life. Loudon had everything – more money than he could spend, a successful business and a beautiful lover. My business was doing well and my marriage offered plenty of love and happiness. Yet, encounters with my Dutch colleagues raised the question – should I ask for more out of life?

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Happy New Year!

To get by, I need to eat, drink, love, write and listen to music. This song, written by Tom Schultz, seems appropriate for New Year’s Day. Happy New Year!

Don’t look back

A new day is breakin’
It’s been too long since I felt this way
I don’t mind where I get taken
The road is callin’
Today is the day

I can see
It took so long to realize
I’m much too strong
Not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I’ll turn it around

I finally see the dawn arrivin’
I see beyond the road I’m drivin’
Far away and left behind

It’s a new horizon and I’m awakin’ now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shinin’
The clouds are breakin’
Cause I can’t lose now, there’s no game to play

I can tell
There’s no more time left to criticize
I’ve seen what I could not recognize
Everything in my life was leading me on
But I can be strong

I finally see the dawn arrivin’
I see beyond the road I’m drivin’
Far away and left behind

Don’t look back

 

A Story Begins

This afternoon, I completed a three page outline for Mind Games, book eleven in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. I always start a novel with a three page outline, which I expand into a thirty-three chapter (on average) storyboard. A first draft taken from the storyboard follows before I write the novel.

Mind Games is centred on a young female chess player and her relationships with her father, coach and would-be lover. The mystery element focuses on blackmail, while the theme of the story is love, in its myriad forms.

Meanwhile, I include three atmospheric pictures of Plovdiv in this post. Plovdiv features in The Hermit of Hisarya, book five in the series. The images depict the Old Theatre and the streets of the Old Town.

Finally, I would like to thank you for your support during 2016 and wish you a Happy New Year.

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Sex and the Private Detective

Sex. In the Sam Smith Mystery Series, Sam encounters people from all walks of life, including prostitutes and pimps. Sometimes, the sexual activities of the characters leads them astray, and that can be the source of the mystery. Meanwhile, here is a fascinating article on sex and relationships from Psychology Today

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Sam’s Humour

The Sam Smith Mystery Series combines a mystery with psychological and sociological aspects along with romance and humour. Here is an example of my sense of humour.

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This morning, I turned to my partner and said, “My car won’t start; I think there’s water in the carburettor.”

“How do you know that?” he asked. “You don’t even know what the carburettor is.”

“I’m telling you,” I replied, “I’m sure there’s water in the carburettor.”

“We’ll see,” my partner sighed wearily. “Let me check it out. Where’s your car?”

“In the swimming pool,” I said.