Tag Archives: Bulgaria

Europe by Book

Today, I’m launching a new venture, Europe by Book. I’m starting with a Facebook page. A website and more outlets will follow.

This year, Plovdiv is the European Capital of Culture, so it is a good place to start our tour of Europe by Book.

In 1855, Hristo G. Danov created the first Bulgarian publishing company and printing-press. Furthermore, the city can boast Bulgaria’s first public library, the Ivan Vazov National Library, founded in 1879 and named after the famous Bulgarian writer and poet Ivan Vazov. Today, the library houses over 1.5 million books.

Do you have a favourite Bulgarian author, either from the past or present? Please comment so that I can share your favourites with my readers 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/EuropeByBook

The Muse #2

Welcome to The Muse, the latest news from bestselling author, Hannah Howe

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The opening chapter of The Devil and Ms Devlin finds Sam still working, against her will, from her office houseboat. However, when a Greek billionaire shows up wishing to hire Sam, does this mean a change of fortune?

The billionaire wants Sam to discover who is sending death threats to his lover, the superstar actress Dana Devlin, who after suffering emotional problems is making a comeback. However, the death threats are sent on postcards containing hearts, angels and flowers. What could this mean? Sam enters the glamorous world of movie making to uncover the truth, a truth clouded by murder, blackmail, fetishes and crooked business deals.

Meanwhile, Sam’s psychologist husband, Alan, encourages Dana to talk about her life, uncovering a closely guarded secret about her daughter and the root of her emotional problems.

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I’m researching a novel, which will be set in Bulgaria in 1944. My novel will be based on true events and the lives of two individuals, Ivan Danev, an eighteen year old resistance fighter imprisoned by the fascists, and Frank Thompson, a British officer who assisted the partisans. Along with biographies of Frank Thompson, Ivan Danev’s memoirs, Nest of Heroes, (pictured) will form the centrepiece of the story. The novel will also feature Ivan‘s sister, a young woman caught up in the conflict.

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Laura has started work on the French translation of Amour et Balles, Love and Bullets, book two in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. Our aim is to develop this series in French and explore the French book markets this year.

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A great start to the year for Tradimento, the Italian version of Betrayal, #2 on the Historical Fiction chart 🙂

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What a lovely review from a Canadian reader, for Sam’s Song 🙂

“Initially, I had a bit of trouble getting into the book, probably because the premise was not something I was familiar with, i.e. a rock star with a problem. Not a fan of rock music, or the lifestyle, it was the protagonist, Sam, that drew me in. Don’t you just love it when a book grows on you? Three-quarters of the way into the story I was routing for Sam and hoping she would make sound decisions. It takes a good writer to draw one into a story that is hard to put down, especially if it isn’t something you relate to.”

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Another wonderful review from Canada, for The Big Chill 🙂

“I love the Sam Smith series! She is feisty and funny and determined. Sam is shot in her office and as part of her recovery, she is not going to rest until she finds the person who did it. The list of potential suspects is unnervingly long. I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page, and now I’m a little sad it’s over. I highly recommend this series. They just keep getting better!”

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I’ve never been drawn to fame, fortune, glamour or celebrity. This book explains why. It tells the story of many beautiful, extremely rich and privileged people. The common thread is the sad and vacuous nature of their lives. When Gene Tierney suffered a mental breakdown and couldn’t remember her lines, the only person who tried to help her was a common maid. Gene Tierney had hired the maid to look after her daughter. Instead, she looked after the movie star. As Gene Tierney candidly admits, she had ‘everything’, a glamorous existence, while the maid had ‘nothing‘, except the happier life.

The Muse #1

The Muse

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The Devil and Ms Devlin eBook Cover

The Devil and Ms Devlin, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fifteen, will be published on Easter Sunday. The book will be available for pre-order from 21st January 2019.

A lovely quote from Gene Tierney, discovered while researching her life and career, “A romantic picks the rose and is careless with the thorns.”

My books have sold well in France over Christmas with several making the top 💯. Also, a lovely review for Secrets and Lies, in French.

Beaucoup de plaisir à lire cette série qui n’a guère de prétention autre que de distraire le lecteur avec des personnages attachants et des histoires variées. C’est un roman policier variante eau de rose (l’harlequin du polar) qui fait passer un bon moment sur une plage ce qui n’a rien de méprisable, les bons moments sont toujours bons à prendre!

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I’ve read so many excellent books this year, it’s impossible to pick a favourite. However, if forced to nominate one I would select A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe. Check it out. It’s truly delightful.
https://www.amazon.com/Household-Spirits-Eastern-Europe-Creatures-ebook/dp/B07H7V5KX6/

I love movies from the 1940s through to the 1970s. I also love Dana Andrews as an actor. Therefore, I was delighted to receive a DVD of Fallen Angel for Christmas. I’m sure this movie will influence a novel I’m researching. Set in 1948, my novel will feature one of the characters from my Ann’s War series and will have a noir feel, similar to The Third Man.

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One of the highlights of the past year has been working with my team of talented translators. In particular, I would like to send Christmas greetings to: Cristina, Anita, Tais, Irene, Laura D, Luc, Zachary, Laura N, Minea, Jill, Silvia, Eva and Christina. Thank you. I look forward to working with you again in the new year.

I’m co-founder and co-editor of Mom’s Favorite Reads. Lots of great seasonal content in our December magazine. It’s FREE. Check it out 🙂

 

Research, Cover Reveals and Translations

Having stepped off the Amazon eBook promotional treadmill, I wondered if I’d want to climb back on. After a period of reflection, the answer is ‘no’. Been there, done that. Why go round in circles when there are so many paths to follow? Besides, I’ve achieved all I want to achieve with eBook sales. Time to move on.

Currently, I’m researching my latest Ann’s War story, Escape. This story is based on a true event, the mass escape of 76 German prisoners of war from Island Farm POW Camp 198. This plan shows the facilities at the camp, which included a concert hall, a coffee shop and a football pitch. You will also notice two escape tunnels indicated on the plan. More of them later.

Island Fam Map

This week, I published Boston, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fourteen. Meanwhile, here is the draft cover for The Devil and Ms Devlin, book fifteen in the series. The Devil and Ms Devlin with be published in the spring of 2019, and will be available for pre-order soon.

The Devil and Ms Devlin eBook Cover

To celebrate the fact that I published four books this week in four different languages – Bulgarian, Dutch, English and French – I have a new section on my website, Translations. You will also find books in Italian and Japanese in this section with many more to follow.

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Books and Background #4

I read this book with my young sons and we were all captivated by the story. Dragon Village blends Tolkien with Harry Potter and Slavic mythology to create an original, enchanting, entertaining tale. If you like mythology and folk tales, you will love this book.

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The day fire and ice erupt from the sky, everything changes forever for twelve-year-old Theo. He discovers that dragons are real when Lamia, a three-headed monster, kidnaps his sister. A witch and a talking magpie help him open the portal to Dragon Village, a land he knows only from myth, a place filled with terrifying creatures. A young woodland nymph befriends him when he arrives. He must learn to trust his instincts as he searches for a way to defeat Lamia before the dragon sacrifices his sister. In his journey, he uncovers secrets that reveal that only he can save the mystical land.

In this book, you will discover some of the terrifying creatures from Bulgarian and Slavic mythology. Some you may know by other names: Samodivi are Veelas from Harry Potter fame, only here they’re shown as supernatural creatures of the forest.

Baba Yaga, Harpies, and other creatures find their way into these pages, as well as the dreaded Lamia.

Amazon Link

 

Background on the Books

The Hermit of Hisarya is set in Bulgaria, and the dramatic finale takes place on the streets of Plovdiv Old Town, pictured.

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You can read an extract from the book here

One of the characters in Secrets and Lies is loosely based on Dorothy Parker. Here are five of my favourite Dorothy Parker quotes:

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”

“I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.”

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Newton Beach. Sam’s husband, Dr Alan Storey, and a troubled Vittoria Vanzetti walk along this beach in Family Honour.

In the 1920s and 1930s a local physician, Dr Hartland, created an open-air spar on the beach and dispensed spring water. His spar was very popular, and people flocked from miles around.

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Sins of the Father features Sam’s dad and his nefarious past. The story includes a brutal murder, which reminds Sam of Bugsy Siegel’s murder, witnessed through archive photographs. Bugsy Siegel, pictured in a 1928 mugshot, was a mobster, one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his day. He was a celebrity, a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip and a founder of Murder, Inc. A bootlegger during Prohibition, Siegel turned to gambling. Noted for his prowess with guns and violence, in 1939 he was tried for the murder of fellow mobster Harry Greenberg, but in 1942 was acquitted. Either due to mobster infighting, or an illicit affair, Siegel was shot dead on 20th June 1947 by an unknown gunman.

Although not as dark as reality or the mobster films of the 1940s through to the 1970s, Sins of the Father is my homage to that strand of the private detective genre.

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The music track is Danny Bailey from Elton John’s classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. Danny Bailey is lyricist Bernie Taupin’s composite gangster from the Prohibition era.

Looking ahead to 2018 when Sam will be travelling to Boston, I have been researching the past and present of the city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Puritan settlers from Boston, Lincolnshire gave Boston its name, on 7th September 1630. The Puritan focus on education led to the founding of America’s first public school, in Boston, in 1635. Throughout the seventeen century Boston continued to develop into the largest town in British America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-eighteenth century. My Sam Smith mystery story, called Boston, will be set at Christmas, amongst the snow.

The picture shows a south-east view of Boston, c1730.

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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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