Category Archives: writing

Murder in Bloom

Maybridge Murder Mysteries

Cover of Murder in Bloom with the words Pre-OrderI’m delighted that the third of my Maybridge Murder Mysteries, Murder in Bloom, is now up for pre-order on Amazon.

As you can see, the kindle edition is at a launch price of 99p/99c. It won’t stay at that price.

So, what’s been happening in Maybridge since Christmas? Quite a lot. Abby’s business, Earthly Designs, is growing. And Jake has now moved into the cottage. He never left after Christmas.

It’s the summer half-term. Lucy—about to leave school—is off to a music festival with her boyfriend Cal. Tom is at a cricket coaching week. Sophie is camping with the Guides. Jake is away on a business trip in Ireland. Abby, meantime, has been working every hour to put the finishing touches to her show garden.
Today is judgement day.

The Maybridge Show

Maybridge Observer announcing Daisy Dashwood to appear at Show for Murder in BloomThe Maybridge Show has been an annual event in Maybridge since Sir Harry Beaumont was granted a patent to hold a fair by Queen Elizabeth I back in the sixteenth century. (For more about ancient fairs visit the National Archives.)

It was a gathering for livestock and horse trading, a time to make deals and hire servants. It was also an opportunity to let your hair down and have a good time. There was drinking, gambling, women. And there were villains and pickpockets ready to take advantage of the those with money on the hip.

Click on the image to read the newspaper!

A day out for the family

Sketch of People at a Theme ParkThe Maybridge Show is held at Beaumont Court every year—civil wars and other inconveniences excepting—but it is now a much more family friendly event.

The only rivalry will be in the show tents as adults and children compete for rosettes in the show classes. For the best, the biggest, the weirdest vegetables. For miniature gardens and flower arrangements.

Preserves, cakes, home made wines and beers and crafts of every kind will be judged for pride rather than financial reward. And there are a host of entertainments.

Television arrives in Murder in Bloom

News and media - word cloud Keen to attract the social media and television coverage of the big flower shows, the committee have now introduced show gardens. Abby, approaching her own, is content that she has achieved a major personal ambition. She tells herself that It doesn’t matter a jot what colour medal she’s been awarded.
Who is she kidding!

While she is still absorbing her gold medal, Maybridge-born celebrity gardener Daisy Dashwood arrives with a film crew in tow.

Daisy Dashwood

Person sneezingDaisy is famously prone to hay-fever—such a nuisance for a gardener. (But such a business opportunity.) There are rumours of a drink problem and she is somewhat unsteady on her feet.

Daisy admires Abby’s garden then takes a little breather in her “summer house”. Before leaving, she insists Abby join her on stage in the marquee for the broadcast of her television show, The Potting Shed.

She doesn’t wait to take no for an answer but, having made a cutting remark about the next designer’s garden—they have history—she moves on.

What does Abby do?

Mug with the words What Would Abby Finch Do? Just right for Murder in BloomAbby makes her way to the marquee to find it in chaos. Daisy isn’t there, Poppy, her sexy show “sidekick”, has been rushed off to hospital with a scald. Abby is handed a mike and told to hold the fort until Daisy turns up.

She does her best, but the audience want Daisy. When she finally staggers into the marquee, she collapses in front of the shocked audience.

Is it a combination of an excess of hay fever medication? She had been warned. Or could it be vodka in her water bottle? Abby discovers that Daisy isn’t quite the “sweetheart” her PR image would suggest. More than one person is keen for Daisy to lose her television slot. Maybe to lose a lot more.

Could it be murder in bloom?

Poison BottleThe unexplained death of a national treasure is a disaster for Maybridge. Acting Detective Sergeant Dee Newcombe is sent to seek out Abby and ask for her help.

Her suspicions grow, as does the suspect list and Abby, unable to resist a mystery, dives in…

Read Murder in Bloom to find out what happens next.

Maybridge

And if you want to see what is in my head when I’m writing this series, this is the town on which I based my fictional Maybridge.

PS

Daphne du Maurier first place award certificate for Murder Among the Roses with book coverAnd in late news, I have just heard that Murder Among the Roses has won first place by the RWA’s Kiss of Death Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in mystery/suspense in the cozy mystery category!

PPS It’s still free at the moment so if you haven’t read it now is the time to grab a digital download!.

 

Liz Fielding

Liz

Catherine Gordon Byron – a bad mother, or Gothic heroine?

Catherine Gordon Byron

Earlier this year I wrote about the Romantic poet and favourite bad boy, Lord Byron.  In that blog, I mentioned his wild family but concentrated on his father’s side. They were all, well, shall we say wild and wayward. Now it’s time to redress the balance.

I want to talk about his mother, Catherine Gordon Byron, who has at least some of the hallmarks of a Gothic heroine. Let’s start with her ancestors.

The distaff side

Rabbit hole warningNot a term we hear a great deal about, these days, unless you work in the textile industry, so here’s a bit  more information.

WARNING, A RABBIT HOLE! Continue reading

Romantic Hero in Archetype and Fashion

Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

During the last few weeks all occasions have conspired to make me think about the hero in archetype and fashion; specifically the romantic hero.

First there was my book winnowing, about which I have already mourned on this blog.  Identifying the books I absolutely couldn’t bear to part with has resulted in a personal romantic classics shelf.

Then there was describing one of my current works in progress to a non-writing reader. (Well, she did ask me.) Did my romantic hero have to be a lust object, she wondered. I considered. I mean I love him to bits but he can be seriously annoying, to author and heroine alike. Not a universal lust object, I concluded.

We talked a bit about myth, story theory and Christopher Vogler’s influential guide to the Hero’s Journey (based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces).

Which brought us to Bridgerton, the Netflix Phenomenon, of which more in a future blog.

And then, following the recent awards for the Romantic Novel of the Year, I’ve been dusting off my collection of the award winners of the RNA’s first half century, 1960 – 2010. And oh boy, did the fashion in heroes change over that time. Continue reading

Reverted Books and Digital Publishing

Secondhand Books

I have been a published author for thirty-two years. I’ve had bestseller stickers at Amazon and won a number of awards. It’s been a great career.

Sadly, though, my publisher’s business plan was to put up a book for a month and then it was gone. If a reader wanted to find a copy, they had to hunt it down in a library or look on secondhand bookshelves.

Then a publishing revolution occurred with the arrival of digital publishing and suddenly it was all about the eBook. Continue reading

Shortlists: Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

Now updated with winners in Bold
Sarah Mallory RNA RNOTY 24

AND SHE WON!!
HUGE CONGRATS TO SARAH

The Night She Met the Duke, by Libertà hivie Sarah Mallory, is in the shortlists (in the Historical Romantic Novel category) for this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

These awards are judged entirely by readers, without input from any industry professionals and there are some great books on the lists, including many by good friends of Libertà.

Woman in a bare-shouldered party dress with champagne glass in her hand looks across a night time city scape and smiles.Congratulations to each and every one!

The winners of the awards will be announced during the Romantic Novel Awards ceremony, which is being held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Monday 20th May 2024 at 6.30pm.

THE CATEGORIES AND FINALISTS ARE BELOW
(authors are listed alphabetically in shortlists)
Winners in bold green (updated 21st May)

Continue reading

Noir at the Bar : crime, alcohol, the ideal mixture?

Noir at the Bar, I’m told, first appeared in Philadelphia in 2008.

The full story is here.

Brits, not slow to adopt anything that takes place over a drink in a pub, quickly caught on. It’s now a popular pastime for crime and mystery writers all over the UK.

Crawley Festival of Words

Elly Griffiths, Barbara Nadel and Derek Farrell at Crawley Festival of WordsCrawley, my nearest big town, has a month-long Festival of Words in March and it includes a very popular crime weekend.

There was a crime panel hosted by Derek Farrell – author of the Danny Bird Mysteries — who was talking to Elly Griffiths and Barbara Nadel.  Caroline Green gave a workshop on writing “killer characters”. Spooky readings were the Saturday night treat in the ancient cloisters. The culmination of the weekend was Noir at the Bar, held in an oak-beamed pub called the Old Punch Bowl.

Was I nervous?

Crawley Crime Weekend ProgrammeWhen I received an invitation to appear at Noir at the Bar and read from one of my own books, I leapt at the chance. Who wouldn’t? I’m new to this genre and I need the exposure as a “crime” writer. The terror, the why-did-I-say-I’d-do-this regret would come later…

I’m applying the same technique to a couple of gigs I’ve signed up for at CRIMEfest next month. I have never moderated a panel before, but they say that doing something that scares you is a good thing… Continue reading

Modern English : Fowler’s version and more

Fowler’s Modern English Usage

well-thumbed old book, open

Image by Anja from Pixabay

When I was a child, one of my mother’s friends gave me a copy of Fowler’s Modern English Usage. It was a very special present and pretty battered. She bought it when she was working at the BBC during the War.

Clearly it had seen a lot of use. She worked with a bunch of engineers who were always asking her about grammar whenever they had to put anything in writing.

She gave it to me after she’d asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I had said, loftily, that I was already doing it. (I was eight or nine. Violet Elizabeth could have taken my correspondence course.) The answer, of course, was, “Tell stories.”

To her great credit, she didn’t hoot with laughter. Instead, she disappeared into her study and returned with the well-thumbed object under reference.

“You’ll be needing this,” she said. Continue reading

The Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

Celebrations for the RNA Awards 2024

This week, the Romantic Novelists’ Association announced their shortlists for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024

…which means I can now share the news that The Night She Met the Duke is a finalist in the Historical Romantic Novel category. Woohoo!

And it’s not just me: there are any number of familiar names amongst the finalists, this year, including Louise Allen and Kate Hardy   I am in illustrious company!

Wow. Just…wow

There I was, minding my own business one evening when my phone pinged. It was an email from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, informing me that I am a finalist in the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards 2024: Historical Romantic Novel category.

For those who might not know…

Continue reading

Operation Mincemeat

This week I went to see the musical Operation Mincemeat at the Fortune Theatre in London. It was glorious and I laughed, cried and generally had a whale of a time. This was a delight – and a great relief.

To be honest, by the time the day came round, I was torn about going at all.

For one thing, my now plated right wrist, though exercised/massaged five times a day, sometimes hurts enough to make me yelp, especially if someone bumps into it. The prospect of a crowded  theatre raised my anxiety levels.

hooded mystery manFor another – well, my customary theatre companion had rejected the idea of seeing Operation Mincemeat with conviction abhorrence. Its subject, he said, had been too important to turn into a comedy musical.

I disagreed with the idea that anything could be too important for comedy. But – well, I admit; he worried me.

MINCEMEAT, NÉ TROJAN HORSE

The plot was to send a dead body, to all appearances a British courier, into the orbit of German intelligence with false information on Allied plans. This was to occur in neutral Spain where, under Fascist General Franco, German spies were tolerated and even sometimes supported. The corpse was to carry secret papers  to mislead the German high Command as to the entry point for the intended Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe. Continue reading

Gender-neutral pronouns : Pedantique-Ryter not ranting

Useful, or confusing, or old hat?

3 doors representing options

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Many people now make clear what pronouns they prefer, including gender-neutral ones. How often have you seen “she/her” or “he/him” or “they/them” after an email signature? (Perhaps some are even suggesting “it/it” though I have not noticed any of those.)

The reasons for choosing one option over another are purely for the person concerned and need not be disclosed to anyone else. Nor should anyone else have a say in the person’s choice.
Not even grammar pedants.

So, for once, this is not a rant. More of an exploration.

Regular use of gender-neutral pronouns feels recent. But is it? Continue reading