Monday 29 October 2018

Christmas Ghosts at the Priory - final book for 2018
This is my final book of the year - but I am still writing the ninth. Will be a record year for writing and I'm not sure how I actually managed to produce over 600 000 new words. I don't suppose all of them were good - but they were the best I could do.
I hope you enjoy this light hearted Regency ghost story -bargain at £0.99 and $0.99 - even less than one euro too.

Blurb for the book:

Miss Eloise Granville is happy to agree to an arranged marriage with Viscount Forsythe and awaits his arrival at St Cuthbert's Priory with eagerness. Her grandparents assure her he is a personable young man, does not gamble or drink and is content to marry a bride selected for him by his grandfather. That is, until she discovers he is not aware of her infirmity. It is too late to cancel the arrangement as the announcement of their wedding has already been made. When the resident ghosts become angry at her betrothal it puts them both in mortal danger. Will they find love in the midst of this chaos or will circumstances push them apart?

best wishes
Fenella J Miller

Monday 15 October 2018

Out Today -The Spitfire Girl. Out last week -Belles & Beaux -winter Regency Romantics Boxset.

Today see my first book with Aria-Head of Zeus released. The second will be out next spring and the third, the one I'm writing now, will be out next September.
Her is an extract:

July 1939
‘Well, Miss Simpson, what do you think?’ Joseph Cross asked as he pointed to the de Havilland 60 Moth that stood proudly on the worn grass outside the barn that served as a hanger.
Ellen wanted to hug him but thought he might not appreciate the gesture. ‘I love it. Is it dual control?’
‘No, but it has the usual two seats so can take a passenger.’
‘Good – I’ve got more than enough pupils to teach. Since the government subsidy last year every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to learn to fly.’
‘I hope you don’t expect me to pay you any extra, young lady. I reckon you owe me far more than your wages would have been for all the lessons and hours you’ve spent flying my aircraft over the past five years.’
She put her hands on her hips. ‘Giving my brothers and me lessons at your Flying Club couldn’t have been as much as the rent you would have had to pay to use my father’s farms and fields.’ He was about to interrupt but she continued. ‘Not forgetting the fact that Dad bought the first aircraft and both Neil and George acted as instructors until they joined the RAF.’
He scowled but she wasn’t fooled for a minute. ‘The cost of one lesson is usually two pounds – the three of you never paid a penny…’
‘Joe, I don’t want to stand here arguing anymore. I want to take her up before it gets too hot. Are you coming with me or can I go solo?’
‘Circuits and bumps only, my girl, no flying off into the wild blue yonder. There are three new enquiries to be dealt with in the office – I want you to sort those out this morning.’
The other aircraft the flying club owned were a Swallow and a Gypsy Moth. Both were fitted with dual controls. Joe had several clients who liked to go up on their own and pootle about until the fuel ran out. This de Havilland had been bought to satisfy those clients.
Sidney, the ground engineer, and the only other full-time employee, wandered out from the hanger. ‘Nice little machine, Ellie, sweet as a nut. You going to take it up for a spin?’
‘If that’s all right with you, I’d love to. I’ll not be long – I just want to get the feel of it for myself.’
‘The bloke what brought it said it flies like the Gypsy only a bit faster. You’ll have no problem – you’re a natural. I remember your first solo flight when you were no more than a nipper…’
Joe poked his head out of the office. ‘No time for reminiscing, Sid, let her get on with it. Just had a bell and we’ve got a new pupil coming in an hour.’
‘Sorry, guv, I’ll not hold her up.’
She collected her helmet and goggles and scrambled into the cockpit. Even though the weather was warm she needed her flying jacket on over her dungarees. It got a bit nippy at a thousand feet above the land. After doing her pre-flight checks she taxied into position on the grass runway and took off.
An uneventful forty-five minutes later she landed smoothly and headed for the office to catch up with the paperwork. The new pupil, a middle-aged bank manager, decided after a couple of circuits of the field that he didn’t want to learn to fly after all. As they’d only been in the air for a quarter of an hour there was no charge.
By the time her last pupil left the airfield it was almost six o’clock. Often they had to work until it was too dark to fly, but tonight they’d finished early. Ellen left Sid to lock up and jumped onto her bicycle. At least in the summer Dad didn’t come in for his tea until late so she wouldn’t have missed her meal.
She pedalled furiously down the track, swerving instinctively around the dips and ruts, covering the mile in record time. She skidded into the yard, sending half a dozen chickens squawking into the air in protest, and tossed her bike against the wall.
With luck she’d have time to wash before her parents sat down to eat. It had taken Mum months to get used to seeing her only daughter dressed in slacks or dungarees. She might be a farmer’s wife now, but she’d come from a grand family and had very high standards.
The fact that Mum had been disowned when she’d married a farmer should have softened her but instead, according to Dad, it had made her even more determined to bring her children up as though they were landed gentry and not the children of a farmer.
After a quick sluice in the scullery Ellie headed to the kitchen – she was about to open the door when she realised the voices she’d heard were coming from the seldom used front parlour. Mum insisted on calling it the drawing room, but no one else did.
This must mean they had guests. She looked down at her scruffy oil-stained dungarees and wondered if she had time to nip upstairs and put on something more respectable. Unfortunately, her mother must have heard her come in.
‘Ellen, you are very late this evening. Had you forgotten Neil has a twenty-four hour pass?’
She was pretty sure this was the first she’d heard of it but having her oldest brother home was a wonderful surprise. She didn’t stop to think why this meant they were in the parlour, and burst in.
‘Hello, little sister, I’ve brought a chum along. Let me introduce you to Gregory Dunlop.’
Only then did she become aware of the second RAF uniformed young man staring at her with open admiration. He was a bit shorter than Neil, but broader in the shoulders, with corn coloured hair and startlingly blue eyes.
‘I’m pleased to meet you, Flying Officer Dunlop.’ She wasn’t sure if she should offer her hand as despite her best efforts it was far from clean.
He stepped closer and held out his and she had no option but to take it. ‘I’ve heard so much about you, Miss Simpson, and have been pestering your brother for an invitation in order to meet you for myself.’
His grip was firm, his hand smoother than hers – but what caught her attention was his upper crust accent. ‘I’m sorry to appear in my work clothes. If you don’t mind waiting a few more minutes I’ll pop upstairs and change into something more suitable for the occasion.’
‘Please, don’t worry on my account. I think you look perfectly splendid just as you are.’
He seemed reluctant to release her hand but she pulled it away firmly. He was a very attractive man and was obviously interested in her, but she wasn’t looking for a boyfriend.
‘Run along, Ellen, you’ve got plenty of time to put on a frock as your father has only just come in himself. We are having a cold collation so nothing will be spoiled by waiting for another quarter of an hour.’
She smiled at her brother in resignation and he winked. They both knew there was no point in arguing once their mother had made up her mind.
She met her father in the passageway. ‘Have you got to change as well, Ellie? She told me at lunchtime I’ve got to put on something smart.’
‘It must be because of Neil’s friend. He certainly sounds very posh.’ She pushed open her bedroom door and was about to go in when he replied.
‘Seems a lot of fuss for nothing but easier to give in than put up with a week of black looks and sour faces.’ He shook his head sadly and went into the room he no longer shared with her mother. Ellie wished her parents had a happier relationship.
If there was one thing she’d learned, by watching the disintegration of what must once have been a happy union, it was this: Don’t marry for love as it doesn’t last. If she ever took the plunge it would be with a man she respected, liked and who shared her outlook on life.
Her mother had told her to put on a frock but she rebelled. She didn’t wish to impress their visitor so would come down in what she usually wore – slacks and blouse. The only time she put on a frock was when she was forced to attend church. Most Sundays she had the excuse that she had to work at the airfield.
She checked her face was oil free and ran a brush through her hair. Satisfied she was presentable she hurried downstairs eager to catch up on Neil’s news. George, her other brother, hadn’t been home since January and she was desperate to hear how he was doing.
Her mother pursed her lips when Ellie came in. ‘Is your father coming, Ellen?’
‘I don’t know, Mum, but I don’t think he’ll be long.’ She joined her brother by the open window, leaving his friend to entertain her mother.
‘I wish you wouldn’t deliberately provoke her, Ellie. Why won’t you call her Mother? You know how much she dislikes being called Mum, especially in front of strangers.’
She shrugged. ‘Whatever she was in the past, now she’s just a farmer’s wife. Have you finished your training?’
He grinned and pointed to the wings on his uniform. ‘I have, didn’t you see these? George is still in Scotland – seems he pranged a Moth and needs longer up there.’
‘He obviously didn’t hurt himself or you wouldn’t be so jolly. Do you know where you’re going to be stationed?’
Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of her father looking uncomfortable in a collar and tie. After he was introduced to the guest her mother clapped her hands as if wishing to attract the attention of a crowd of children.
‘We shall go in to dine now that we are all here.’
Ellie hid her smile at her mother’s pretentiousness behind her hand. Ham and salad hardly deserved such an introduction.
When her father mentioned the likelihood of there being a war her mother insisted that this was not a suitable topic of conversation at the dinner table. No one was particularly interested in discussing the weather and an uneasy silence fell.
‘We’ve got another aircraft, Dad. I took her up and…’
Her mother glared at her. ‘I’m sure that Flying Officer Dunlop doesn’t want to hear about your highly unsuitable employment. A young lady should be interested in more feminine things, don’t you agree, Mr Dunlop?’
The young man nodded solemnly. ‘I’m sure that most girls would prefer to talk about fashion or flowers but your daughter is different. I’ve never met a female pilot before and am most impressed. How many hours solo do you have now, Miss Simpson?’
‘Please call me Ellie, everyone else does.’
‘And you must call me Greg.’
‘Well, Greg, to answer your question, I’ve been flying since I was twelve – six years now – and got my A licence when I was fourteen and my instructor’s certificate when I was sixteen. I’ve logged more than twelve hundred hours now.’
‘Good God! That’s a damn sight more than I have.’ He couldn’t fail to hear her mother’s horrified gasp. Instead of being embarrassed he smiled at her. ‘I apologise for my appalling language, Mrs Simpson, I do hope you will forgive me.’
‘Apology accepted. I’ll say no more on the matter.’
He turned to Ellie. ‘I want to hear how you manage in poor weather conditions and hope you will talk to me before we leave tomorrow morning.’
Before she could answer she was instructed to clear the table and fetch the dessert. Obediently she pushed her chair back and began to collect the plates. When Greg made a move to stand up she shook her head.
Clearing the table was a woman’s job, as well all the other domestic duties that she did her best to avoid. Pudding was a sherry trifle accompanied by a jug of thick, fresh cream from their dairy herd. She placed the large glass bowl on the tray and put the cream beside it. The ham salad, again all home-grown, had been excellent but this would be even better.

best wishes
Fenella J Miller

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Jean Fullerton - A Ration Book Christmas

Today I'm delighted to welcome the wonderful Jean Fullerton to my blog. Jean, can you tell us how you came to be an East End historical writer?

Hi Fenella, and thanks for inviting me onto your blog. I think to be totally honest from the moment Roger Moore rode over the hill on that white horse in Ivanhoe if I was going to be anything it would be historical but why are my books are set in East London? Because the book that got me my agent and first contract, No Cure for Love, was set there and the rest as they say is history.

What eras do you write in?

I write 20th century at the moment but I have written in a variety of many different eras and locations from the 17th century Caribbean and 18th century during the War of Independence.

Would you prefer to write about another city?

I wouldn’t necessarily prefer to but I wouldn’t mind. I think Rome in any era would hold a 1000 stories as would Venice, Glasgow or New York.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years’ time?
Still with my lovely agent Laura and my supportive publishers Atlantic and hopefully with another 6-8 titles to my name. However, more importantly I’d love to have a greater number of readers enjoying my stories.

If you could be another writer who would it be and why?

Difficult one as I’m quite happy with my life as a writer but I wouldn’t mind being Bernard Cornwall as so many of his books have been adapted for TV and Film

Which is more important do you think - critical acclaim, readers or royalties?

I’m not interested in critical acclamation at all and the money is nice but the real reason I write is for the lovely emails and letters from readers who love my story. That’s what keeps me going when I find a scene’s not going right, or I’m tied up in my own plot.  
Who is your favourite writer and why?

Difficult to say really as I love so many. If pushed, I’d have to say Bernard Cornwall and Elizabeth Chadwick for historical. I’ve enjoyed all of William Ryan’s Korolev detective series and I enjoy Julie Cohen and Carole Matthews contemporary books.

Is the cover or the title more important?
Cover every time. The wrong cover can bury your book and destroy your sales. 

Finally: Tips for those just beginning their writing journey.
What is the most crucial thing for a new writer to understand?

They aren’t undiscovered geniuses. You may have a talent for storytelling but you have to learn the craft of writing it. 

Should you write about what you know?

No or half the most brilliant books would never have been written, after all how would the Brontes have managed,  but if you are writing about something outside your experience then please do your research.

 Is it essential to have an agent?
Some might argue but I’d say ‘yes’ as they have access to and deal with the publishing world all the time. They are also totally on your side and although they do take their commission they don’t earn a penny until you do and I don’t begrudge a penny of what goes to my lovely agent Laura.

If you were just starting out would you do anything differently?
Not be as accepting of what editors told me and make my publicity department do more.
Thanks for taking the time to ask me some very interesting question, Fenella.

Thank you for taking the time to answer them. I'm sure anyone who drops by will be fascinated to be able to dip into the mind of a writer.

Ration Book Christmas. In the darkest days of the Blitz, Christmas is more important than ever.
With Christmas 1940 approaching, the Brogan family of London's East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe's nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.
For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

Bio: Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She worked as a district nurse in East London for over twenty-five years and is now a full-time author. 
She is a qualified District and Queen's nurse who has spent most of her working life in the East End of London, first as a Sister in charge of a team, and then as a District Nurse tutor.
She has won multiple awards and all her books are set in her native East London.  Her latest book, A RATION BOOK CHRISTMAS, is the second in her East London WW2 Ration Book series featuring sisters Mattie, Jo and Cathy Brogan and their family.

Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_

Monday 1 October 2018

Too soon for Christmas?

Click Here
Out in November.
There are some people, believe it or not, who keep their Christmas decorations up all year-round.
Like many writers I have to think about Christmas in the spring when I write my two Christmas books. I then forget about it until September. I always think that the start of Strictly Come Dancing as the beginning of the run into the festive season.
I can't get enough of the sparkly wonderfulness!
My beloved husband who has vascular dementia loves it as much as I do. Even though he has no language to speak of, and is very confused, when I showed him the Radio Times with all the pictures of the couples competing he was very excited and spent an hour looking at them. As soon as he hears the music he starts laughing. I watch these programs live, including It Takes Two, and then watch them again with him the following day.
The shops are already brimming with baubles, glitter and Christmas nonsense – I believe you can't have too many Christmas cushions so bought two more – these not only have Father Christmas they also have battery operated lights!
Christmas used to be more meaningful when I was a churchgoer – but even though I'm no longer religious I do believe that there is such a thing as Christmas spirit. It's a time for forgiving, for being with family, for celebrating everything that's good and putting aside our problems for a few days.
My decorations go up on the first day of December. It's going to be fun trying to keep our young British Shorthair, Billy-Blue, away from the tree. No doubt he'll send most of the things flying and I'll end up with none of the usual ornaments and so on on the coffee table.
As far as I'm concerned Christmas can be talked about from September, gifts and cards can be purchased from now, and the whole of December can be given over to the excesses of the season.
I won't wish you all a happy Christmas this month – although I did wish the people who run the garden centre the greetings of the season last Thursday as I won't be seeing them again until the spring.
Best wishes
Fenella J Miller