Archive | April 2016

The Epidaurus Inheritance – now Free on Amazon for 5 Days

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My romantic mystery novel The Epidaurus Inheritance is currently free on Amazon for 5 days. That’s from today, Monday 25th April until midnight on Friday 29th April, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). After that it will return to its original price of $2.99.

If you haven’t already read this book, now is a good time to download it because it’ll cost you absolutely nothing except the time to read it. Don’t despair if you don’t have a kindle, because you can download a free kindle app to your device from any Amazon site, and read it on that. What could be simpler?

As I said last month when one of my other books – Benicio’s Bequest – was up for free, I know that romantic mysteries are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like writing them because I’ve always enjoyed reading them. I don’t regard mine as regular romances, because there’s always a mystery to solve along the way, usually with a good dollop of history, art and possibly a smattering of the classics thrown in, and this novel is no exception.

The Epidaurus Inheritance is set in Greece, one of my favourite places in the world; a place which, for me, has always been steeped in history, drama and mythology, to say nothing of being the birthplace of theatre as we know it. In fact, that’s where this novel starts – at a modern performance of an ancient Greek play.

Cassie is the set designer for a South African production of a play which is being staged at one of the oldest Greek theatres in the world – the enormous open-air stone structure that is Epidaurus – as part of the annual summer festival. For the design of a ceremonial knife used in the play, Cassie has copied the design of an ancient knife she inherited from her Greek father, which was handed down through the generations before him. Cassie has always been fascinated by the knife and is hoping to find out more about it now that she is in Greece.

Unfortunately for Cassie, she is not the only one interested in it. In addition to Zander, the antiquities investigator who starts badgering her about the original knife, a group of silent men who are part of an obscure religious order always seem to turn up in the same place as Cassie at the wrong time. Before long there is a break-in at Cassie’s hotel and she no longer knows who to trust.

Cassie’s quest takes her to Athens, Galaxidi, Delphi and the island of Poros, and along the way she is dogged by knife-wielding lunatics, murder, betrayal, kidnapping and fire. On the lighter side, she finds love, ancient artworks and an archaeological secret that she thought existed only in her dreams.

To those of you who downloaded last month’s book – Benicio’s Bequest – I hope you enjoyed it enough to want to try this one as well. Thank you to those of you who left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Your kind words are much appreciated.

As I always say – if you enjoy the read please tell everyone you know, but if you don’t enjoy it please send me a message on the contact form either here or on my website, telling me what you didn’t like. All constructive criticism will go towards improving future novels. And if you really enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Or both.

You can download The Epidaurus Inheritance here from Amazon.com, or here from the Amazon store nearest to you, any time between now and Friday night in the USA. If you are elsewhere in the world, you’ll still have until later on Saturday to download it: 7 am in the UK, 8 am in South Africa and 4 pm in the eastern part of Australia. If you are anywhere else, you can check your time zone against Pacific Daylight Time with world time buddy.

Here’s hoping you have fun on your whirlwind reading trip through Greece…!

What Road Trips Have Taught Me About Writing

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On all my holidays and road trips since 1982 I have written a daily travel diary, detailing each day’s events, names of places, what I saw, felt, did, bought, and so on. This has stood me in good stead when writing novels because with all those detailed memories plus whatever current info I can find about those places on Google, I can draw up a fairly accurate depiction of what life is like in that particular place today.

Hand in hand with the travel diary text, there are always photographs. Loads of them. Back in the days of using ordinary film, I was more careful about what I snapped. There was no instant viewing or opportunity for immediate retakes if you didn’t like the first picture, because of the delay in having the pictures printed – a process usually done once you reached home after the trip, and by then on an even more limited post-holiday budget.

When I hiked the Otter Trail back in 2003, I considered getting a digital camera to take with me, but when someone pointed out that, with no electricity for five days, I wouldn’t be able to recharge the battery nightly, I stuck to my trusty old Ricoh.

In 2011 I attended a writing seminar on adventure and travel writing, where one of the presenters advised us to invest in an ordinary digital camera and to take photographs of absolutely everything along the way. “You don’t have to print them all,” he told us, “and even if they’re not good enough to accompany an article in a travel magazine, they will always aid you in remembering places and incidents.”

Boy, was he right! I bought myself an entry-level digital Canon just before my first trip to Australia in 2012 and have used it to the nth degree ever since. The only downside is that the more photos I take, the more important it is to remember to recharge the camera’s battery before the next day’s excursion.

I’ve just returned to Melbourne after a two week road trip down the eastern side of Australia with one of my closest friends. Some days were so busy that we were too tired by the evening to write our daily notes, so this often didn’t happen until days later. Thanks to the photographs acting as reminders, not a single precious memory has been muddied or lost, from Arrawarra Beach to Mount Kosciuszko.

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Some days my photo count was over 140, particularly the day we saw the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge! Although only a handful of these found their way into Facebook, blog posts and tweets, they are all on my computer waiting to jog my memory when the time comes.

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I love being a writer because I can justify anything I do by calling it research. My recent road trip definitely holds fodder for a future novel. At the moment I have no idea what that next novel will be about – anything from a mob of  wild kangaroos to the story of Ned Kelly – but I’m certain it will be set somewhere in those 2400 kilometres we travelled through the south eastern part of Australia.

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I believe that being out of your comfort zone and travelling with an open mind are the two key ingredients for finding potentially limitless possibilities for the next novel.

If there is a common thread running through my novels, it is the fish-out-of-water theme. My novels are never autobiographical, but just like my fictional heroines, I enjoy being a single person in an unfamiliar place, ripe for experiencing the adventure of a lifetime.

Not knowing in advance what the next novel is about has never stopped me from gathering useless information for it. In common with other novelists, I have a system for filing away ideas, snippets of news, and notes about certain skills I will never personally achieve, but which my characters might well be masters of. Like a jigsaw puzzle where I can create my own pieces, the next novel will take shape when the time is right, and it will be made up of all sorts of previously unconnected pieces.

I firmly believe that part of any creative process is the melding together of various elements that would be unrelated in another context. The real trick is to find that elusive strand of gold that weaves it all together successfully and makes it shine for the reader.