** FREE Short Story ** with #NewRelease Rosebrook Chronicles

Publication Day is getting close for noir suspense saga, ‘Rosebrook Chronicles, the Hidden Stories’ with a FREE short story to download.

Rosebrook Chronicles is a series of interlocking stories which fuse into a compelling saga. People inspire me and while my favourite genres are thrillers and suspense, I like stories that delve deep into the human psyche.

ROSEBROOK CHRONICLES The Hidden Stories, a novel by Helen J. Christmas

Abused as teenagers, three young adults strive to repair their broken lives; Robin has ambitions to rise to power, while orphaned siblings, Beatrice and Peter, yearn to find one another.

Deeper stories of these characters drive the plot, intended to keep the reader emotionally hooked. What lies at the heart of Robin’s political power play? Why are Peter and Beatrice kept apart for so long and is there something more sinister behind their segregation?

A dark suspenseful drama from the 70s to the 90s, this is a unique blend of social history and domestic noir. 

New Edits thanks to my Beta Readers

This book has passed under the eagle eye of four beta readers, successful, talented authors in their own right. I would like to convey my thanks to Ray Green, Joel Hames, Rose Edmunds and last but by not least, best selling historic fiction author Beryl Kingston, for taking the time to read my book.

Inspiration

Completing some extensive edits (to address points raised my beta readers), I was pondering over the launch date. I approached a few literary agents, since Rosebrook Chronicles was quite different from my previous work. Writing this book, I found a distinctive voice for each character and endeavoured to explore the deeper issues of child abuse, the impact on victims and the way it shapes people’s lives.

It’s been interesting but I know what it feels like to be suppressed by controlling people, the power of lies and of not being believed.

This leads me to mention the books I enjoy reading, all psychological thrillers.

Recommended Books

The RumourThe Rumour by Lesley Kara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most original stories I have read. This book certainly opened my eyes; a story of gossip with terrible consequences, how one rumour can unleash suspicion and any one of your friends could be a killer. An absorbing book with a heart-stopping twist.

Spare RoomSpare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by Dreda Say Mitchell but Oh Boy what a good read! The secrets of the past are drip fed through the plot. Why is Lisa so drawn to this house? Who is the mystery man who left the suicide note and could her life too be under threat? Brilliant.

The Secret Child (DI Amy Winter, #2)The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A crime thriller packed with psychological suspense, where you start to question who the victim really is. Amy is forced to confront her past, to get into the head of a sinister kidnapper. What ensues is a gripping game of cat and mouse, a race against time to save the victims.

What She SawWhat She Saw by Wendy Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am currently reading this and utterly hooked. It is not just the beautiful descriptions of the Lake district I am enjoying but the pure unadulterated suspense. I am dying to know what is causing Leona’s panic attacks, a phenomenon I can relate to. A real page turner.

To conclude, there are some bloody good psychological thrillers out there at the moment. But aspiring to their standard is something I dream of!

FREE SHORT STORY

So let others be the judge with a FREE story to download and read at your leisure.

Chapter 14: The Bracelet can be downloaded either as a PDF or mobi file… and if you enjoyed this short story and want to read more about the lives of Bibi and her daughter, my book can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

The Bracelet, a free story by Helen J. Christmas

| CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION | CLICK HERE FOR MOBI VERSION |

Please note: the mobi file cannot be delivered wirelessly to your Kindle as with Amazon. You need to email the file to your device (the address can be found in your Amazon account under devices) or use the Kindle app on your computer.

Rosebrook Chronicles, The Hidden Stories
Publication Date: 1st July 2019

Available to pre-order on Amazon, in Kindle or paperback.

With a publication date planned for July 1st 2019 I am also participating in a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources from 14th to 20th July.

 

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Guest Post with Romantic Fiction Author Carol Thomas

Welcome back, Carol Thomas, who has released a sequel to her Romantic Comedy, The Purrfect Pet Sitter. Last year she entertained us no end with her sparkling new novel, a great holiday read. You can see the previous post by clicking this link:

Leading Men in Fiction: Guest Post by Carol Thomas

To celebrate the release of her romantic comedy, Maybe Baby, Carol Thomas is this week’s Chindi Author of the Week, and is stopping by to tell us more about her latest novel:

Maybe Baby is the second book in the Lisa Blake series, published by Ruby Fiction. While the story follows on from The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1), it can also be read as a standalone novel.

Photo of author Carol ThomasIn Maybe Baby, Lisa Blake is back with her first love, she’s reunited with her best friend Felicity, and life is looking good; even her pet sitting skills are improving – everybody knows you can’t believe all you read in the local Gazette, don’t they?

Felicity is on the cusp of achieving her perfect wife-mum-life balance; Her husband, Pete, is being wonderfully attentive, and her four children are getting older and wiser (sometimes too much wiser) by the day.

But just when they think that maybe, just maybe, they have everything sorted, it becomes clear that life is nothing but full of unexpected surprises!

What challenges did you face writing a romance about an already established couple?

In Maybe Baby, the romance aspect comes from the characters working together as they face the next phase of their lives. There are secrets to be revealed and new discoveries to be made. I really enjoyed working with the characters again and putting them in new situations, exploring how they progressed as a couple was a lot of fun.

Having written two books focused around the same characters, who are your favourites?

I have a soft spot for all of them, and I have spoken on your blog before about my male heroes – I do love the male leads in this book. But I adore Felicity’s four children. It was hard to write any scene involving them without a smile on my face. They have fabulously inquisitive minds and their own quirky characters. They, along with Lisa’s furry clients, give rise to many of the comedic moments across the series.

Can we expect more in the Lisa Blake series?

Never say never! Each story is complete in its own right, but I have an idea for a Christmas novella involving these characters that I may explore once I have finished the contemporary romance – separate to this series – that I am currently working on.

Meanwhile, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, currently ebook only, is coming out in audio and paperback on August 6th, which is very exciting!

Maybe Baby is available in audio and as an ebook, buying links:
Amazon: http://getbook.at/MBAmazon
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/maybe-baby-35
Ruby Fiction: https://www.rubyfiction.com/dd-product/maybe-baby/

Website and Social Media Links:
http://carol-thomas.co.uk
http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor
http://twitter.com/carol_thomas2
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/carol_thomas2/
https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

Blog:
http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

Thanks Carol for sharing this news and I wish you the best of luck with Maybe Baby.

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Knuckling Down to Writing Again

Since my last post I’ve followed my own advice, pursuing my dreams

To be more specific WIP, Lethal Ties, is no longer an outline synopsis with a list of characters. I have bashed out the first six chapters and near to completing a 7th. This is a brand new work with a whole new cast but I admit, it took a little while to get into it.

I imagine this must be the same for many authors, where the biggest hurdle getting to know your own characters. Yet the more they develop, the more I find myself mentally engaging with them and more importantly, developing the rest of the plot. Characters are so important though, they form the nucleus of the story and through their actions and emotions, the story can often write itself.

Lethal Ties is a psychological thriller mystery, based on kids in care, while tackling issues such as homelessness, historic child abuse, conspiracy and police cover ups.

Abstract view based on Maisie’s fear of forests.

Talking of characters however, I haven’t lost sight of the Rosebrook Chronicles, a work of fiction I finished earlier this year.

The book is not yet published and this may not happen until August. The reason is, I have to give my beta readers plenty of time to to read it and from the feedback I have received so far, there is still some work to be done but this is not a bad thing. The feedback has been amazing and with really constructive comments on how I can improve it.

“Loved the characters and the common themes that linked them. Great plot, great writing with some really wonderful touches…”

“The way you portrayed the separate journeys of the principle characters was really engaging and the denouement was very satisfying as you pulled all the strands together.”

It’s lovely to know I am on the right track and written something  worth reading.

Rosebrook Chronicles is a deeply moving tale based on the lives of three characters growing up in the 60s and 7os. A blend of social history and domestic noir.

So it feels like an exciting time. I haven’t published anything new since concluding my ‘Same Face Different Place’ series with ‘Retribution End Game’ in 2017. But who knows I may have two new books coming out soon and with a third idea in gestation.

 

 

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Beautiful Spring Sunshine and Fresh Ideas

February has been an unexpected month full of highs and lows

Let’s start with the lows. I’ve been shocked to hear sad news from a few friends concerning unforeseen health problems, some life threatening. It makes you realise how temporary and fragile life can be, never knowing what is around the corner. I must confess the thought of that ‘split second life changing event’ terrifies me more than anything. Makes me thankful of each day I wake up healthy, especially in the aftermath of an intense bout of flu that put me out of action for the best part of a week, but hey, at least I am still here. The saddest news of all was the unexpected death of one of our walking group this week, a vibrant, lovely man who was fighting fit the last time we saw him. He and his wife were on the verge of emigrating to Australia to start a new life with their children. What a cruel blow fate can play!

It’s hard to feel positive in the light of such a tragedy but life must go on. On a more positive note, we’ve enjoyed some gorgeous walks of late with plenty of Spring sunshine. Work is good and on the writing front I have lots of fresh ideas.

This year I completed my latest work of fiction, Rosebrook Chronicles.

This book is a series of interlocking stories which fuse into a suspenseful saga, a contemporary blend of social history and domestic Noir. It follows the lives of three children, abused as teenagers, who strive to repair their broken lives. Each has their own story from battling past traumas to pursuing their dreams, to find love and re-establish broken family ties. But it is the inner stories of these characters that drive the plot, intended to keep the reader emotionally engaged and rooting for them to the end.

The book won’t be available for a while as it is currently being beta read, but a big thank you goes out to those who have offered to do this.

New Fiction

And while all this is going on, I am already plotting my next novel, a psychological thriller about three kids brought up in care, who share a secret. Twenty years later two characters, Maisie and Joe, meet again. Now in their thirties, they have never forgotten the bonds of friendship, nor the chilling disappearance of their friend, Sam. Consequentially, they are desperate to know what happened to him. I even have an idea for a cover, as shown in this creepy photo of trees.

Then believe it or not, I was driving home from Emsworth after a successful client meeting, when out of the blue popped up another idea for a book. Sophie’s Legacy is very much a concept at the moment but a project I cannot wait to start plotting (and only after I have written ‘Lethal Ties’ of course.)

What I am trying to say is cherish what you have and follow your dreams while they are fresh because you never know what tomorrow might bring.

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Dipping into #Historic #Fiction with Rosemary Noble

Historic fiction is one of the many genres I enjoy and this month, I am enthralled to invite author Rosemary Noble to be a guest on my Blog.

Photo of historic fiction author Rosemary NobleRosemary is one of many writers in West Sussex I have met and networked with over the years as a result of CHINDI (Celebrating and Helping Indy Authors). Last year she completed her ‘Currency Girls’ Trilogy, so it is my pleasure to introduce her and find out what lies at the heart of her writing.

Hello, Rosemary and may I start by asking when you first started writing?

I wrote my first book in my teens and then nothing until I retired. It wasn’t even in my retirement plan. I’m still amazed that I have four books written in five years.

The problem is that it’s rather taken over. I need to give myself and my husband a break. He’s getting fed up that I’m so busy.

What made you choose historical fiction as your genre?

I’ve always love history. If my A levels had been good enough in the 60s, I would have studied history at university. But now I have the opportunity to indulge my love with something creative too – the best of all worlds.

That sounds wonderful. Can you describe your novels in 10 words?

Gritty family sagas, real people leading extraordinary and interesting lives.

Just the sort of stuff I like to read, which leads me to my next question. When and where you prefer to do your writing?

I like an early start. Sometimes the ideas come to me when I’m trying to sleep (always annoying) but it means I’m itching to get going not long after dawn. I write in a comfortable chair, with the laptop on my knees.

Same here, I’m an early riser and instead of lying in bed thinking, we might as well be writing it down instead. Where did you get your ideas from?

Family history – simple as that. I like to research the social conditions of the time and that provides me with the settings and framework for the stories.

That is so inspiring – so are your characters based on real people or people you know?

Search for the Light by Rosemary NobleSo far, they have been based on real people with other supportive made-up characters.

The made-up ones are totally imaginative and that means you can make them whatever you want them to be. I had fun in my latest book making a couple of characters quite dark. Sometimes they write themselves, like Sarah, in Search for the Light.

Everyone else in the book is in the third person, but she wanted to tell her story in the first person. I was happy to let her.

Writing in first person is quite different isn’t it? The character has more voice. With this in mind, who is your favourite author?

That is the most difficult question. I have several favourites. I always look for any new books by Sebastian Barry; Rose Tremain; Tracey Chevalier and Margaret Atwood.

I have heard of Rose Tremain, as she is quite famous isn’t she? Following on from that, what is your all time favourite book and why?

Probably Poisonwood Bible by Barabara Kingsolver. It was the first time I had come across a book with some many different and distinct voices. It’s the story of an American Missionary with his family in Africa. It’s narrated by each daughter as the family descends into the chaos caused by the father’s hubris and their government’s duplicity.

That sounds like an intriguing story. But going back to your own books, How much research do you need to do?

Lots. I have written three books set in the nineteenth century, so I read contemporary accounts often freely available on Google Books. I use a lot of newspapers too, occasionally historical journals and the internet, of course, but that I take with a pinch of salt Sometimes I need to visit libraries and museums, specific to the setting. Some local newspapers are still not on-line in the UK.

I guess it is essential to get it right when writing historic fiction. Just imagine if one or more of your stories were made into films. Who would you like to see playing the lead character in your book and why?

In my new book I would choose Sarah Wiseman who played Carolyn Bligh in A Place to Call Home. My husband and I loved the series. He found it by serendipity and then we couldn’t stop watching it. It’s a fascinating representation of the land-owning class in 1950’s Australia, as well as being a great story.

Sounds good. With this in mind, do you work out a strict plot or just start writing?

I have a framework. I know I have to get from A-B via C. However, I also like to see where the writing takes me. For me, that’s a lot more interesting and exciting.

What’s the best advice about writing you were ever given?

Keep in your character’s point of view

And lastly, what are your future plans for writing and what are you working on now?

My eight-year-old granddaughter is desperate for me to write a children’s book. I have one lined up ready to write. She gave me the time-frame and the names of the characters. We brain-stormed a few ideas and then one night the plot came to me around midnight and by three, it was all planned out.

Ranter's Wharf by Rosemary NobleSomething quite different then. I can imagine that will be a lovely new challenge for you and look forward to seeing the end result. Best of luck, Rosemary, this has been a really interesting chat.

To conclude, I have read one of Rosemary’s books, Ranter’s Wharf and was completely engrossed in the story as well as learning about a piece of history I didn’t know.

For further information about Rosemary, you can read her biography below, connect with her via her social networks and check out her author’s page on Amazon, which also lists her books.

Rosemary’s Biography

Rosemary Noble lives in West Sussex and worked as an education librarian.

Books have been her life, ever since she walked into a library at five-years-old and found a treasure trove. Her other love is social history. She got hooked on family history before retirement and discovered so many stories that deserved to be told.

Her first book, Search for the Light, tells the story of three young girls transported to Australia in 1824. Friendship sustains them through the horrors of the journey and their enforced service in Tasmania. The Digger’s Daughter tells of the next generation of gold-diggers and a pioneering woman who lives almost through the first hundred years in Victoria. The third in the trilogy, Sadie’s Wars takes the reader to the fourth generation and into the twentieth century. The trilogy is based on the author’s family. It tells of secrecy and lies, of determination and grit and how all can be done or undone by luck.

Rosemary is a member of CHINDI independent authors and is involved in literary events in and around Chichester. She also loves to travel, especially to Australia and Europe and not least, she loves spending time with her grandchildren, one of whom is a budding author herself.

Check out Rosemary’s Books via her Amazon Author page 

Author Links and Social Networks

Blog: https://rosemarynoble.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chirosie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryJaneNoble/

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Bright ‘n’ Breezy 2019

How Traditional High Street Shopping can be a Feast for the Senses (re-blogged)

Brighton Pavilion

January is a pretty dismal month for all of us but if there is one highlight for us, it is the Bright ‘n’ Breezy 2019 backgammon tournament. My husband plays in the tournament. But for me it is a perfect excuse to enjoy a day’s shopping in Brighton. This weekend I mooched around the North Lanes near the Station and discovered sensory overload.

But as more and more people are seduced my online shopping, I cannot resist extolling the merits of supporting local shops.

Knitwear on showSo here are a few things I discovered that the internet simply cannot match:

  • You might like the look of an item of clothing but you cannot pick it up and hold it up against yourself.
  • You cannot feel the softness of the wool, the weight of the fabric nor appreciate the colours in a different light.
  • I would never have imagined how much the stones sparkled on a brooch I found in a Bric a Brac shop called Snooper’s paradise. I didn’t even know such shops existed any more.
  • Furthermore there were shops selling crafts, paintings, books and vinyl. How cool is that?
  • With lots of food shops and delicatessens to visit, there is an array of local and hand made goodies to sample. You would never be able to taste that cheese on a website.
  • Added to the flavours are a medley enticing smells be they garlic bread, mexican street food, home made cakes, perfume, patchouli oil and many more.
  • You cannot feel the breeze on your face or the warmth of the sun when it breaks out from behind a cloud.
  • Last of all, you cannot hear the buzz of conversation or see the smiles on people’s faces.

Online shopping has changed our lives but I hope we never lose the personal touch, that part of us that reminds us we are still human when we visit our high street.

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Rosebrook Chronicles (The Hidden Stories)

As 2018 is drawing to a close, it is time I revealed a little more about a new book I’ve been writing this year.

The concept of this book of stories arose in Yorkshire, over 2 years ago, whilst visiting the Parsonage Museum in Haworth. Gazing across the writing table where Charlotte Brontë created her world famous masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, I felt a calling, an eerie feeling this was to be my next project. The feeling was so overwhelming I decided there and then that I would do it (once I had finished the ‘Same Face Different Place’ series.)

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the book is now written.
So allow me to introduce the thinking behind
‘ROSEBROOK CHRONICLES (The Hidden Stories)’

A bright moon is a prominent influence in one of the character back stories.

Rosebrook is the fictitious town I created for my series. It is based south east of London in a rural area of Kent, between Bromley and Swanley.

Before I had finished the series, I figured there were some powerful back stories hidden behind the scenes and one or two characters who never quite made it into the story.

This book is not a thriller, more a collection of character driven short stories following the lives of various people, from childhood to adulthood.

The one thing they have in common is they were all abused as children and it was interesting to explore the psychology behind each one of them.

To drop a hint, Peter was a prominent character in my series but his younger sister made a brief appearance in the last book. Due to the complexity of the series, her story was very much glossed over, as I didn’t want to wander off on a tangent. Only later did I realise I could develop an intriguing back story behind her character.

I would describe Rosebrook Chronicles as a combination of social history and domestic noir.

So to date I have a complete draft, a synopsis and an idea for a cover. There are 24 stories featuring some lesser characters at different stages of life, from university and work to forming relationships. But the paths of the characters begin to interweave. I am in editing mode at the moment and working hard to get my draft as polished as possible. Whether to self-publish or not is the next question but given the interest I have picked up, I think the next stage would be to get it out to a few beta readers. After that who knows.

In the meantime, I am battling a stinking cold and getting ready for Xmas but I hope to get a more ‘Christmassy’ post written during the festive week, so Seasons Greetings for now!

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