A Guest Blog – Val Penny

I am delighted to host my fellow Crooked Cat author, Val Penny, on the blog today.

Val! Take it away…

I am delighted to be visiting your blog today to chat about so many of the exciting events and opportunities 2018 has offered me and my family.

It was clear by the end of last year that 2018 would be an exciting one for our family, because my husband had learned last May that he had qualified, again, to represent his country in their International Fishing Team. This is his third Scottish Cap for his beloved fishing. We are all very proud of him.

Imagine our happiness when our older daughter and her husband compounded our excitement by making us grandparents for the first time in April. Joy of joys! A beautiful baby girl. Of course, I have never seen a more beautiful baby nor one more fascinating. Time to get knitting.

I also made a New Year Resolution this year. The first one I have made in many years, and it is one I have found very easy to keep. I resolved to read more books by authors with whose work I was not familiar. This has been a fabulous resolution. I have been thrilled by a historical romance, ‘Heart of Stone‘ by John Jackson, spooked by the ghost story ‘Woman in Back‘  by Susan Hill and intrigued by the mystery that is ‘The Silence’ by Katharine Johnson. The book that I have found most compelling book so far is the autobiography ‘Born a Crime‘ by Trevor Noah. He is a South African comedian and presenter who grew up during the period of Apartheid. As the son of a black South African mother and a white Swiss father his tales of life as a child in his native country are fascinating.  This is the best resolution I have ever made.

But the thrills of 2018 continued to roll in. My debut crime novel, the first in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series, was ‘Hunter’s Chase‘. The book, set in Edinburgh was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. I was excited and nervous about that, in equal measure. So, when my publishers confirmed that they were accepting the second book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series, ‘Hunter’s Revenge‘, with a view to launching it on 09.09.2018, I really did not think things could be any better.

I was wrong. In a good way, but I was wrong: things could and did get better when I was asked to lead a session on publicising your work at the prestigious Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in England in August. I have no doubt that the magic of Swanwick gave me the confidence to show ‘Hunter’s Chase’ to my publishers in the first place, so it will be a delight to be back.

All in all, 2018 has been an extraordinary year for me and my family. I hope it will be similarly exciting for you and all your readers.

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Val Penny is the author of The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. The first on the series, ‘Hunter’s Chase’, was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018 while the sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’, will be published on 09.09.2018. Both books are available to order from Amazon.

Hunter's Revenge Cover

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Hunter’s Revenge 

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.

 DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

 

About Val:

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Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books.

The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

photos the persevere

Val Penny’s “Hunter’s Revenge”

Today, I’m hosting my friend and fellow-Crooked Cat author, Val Penny, on the blog.

Hunter's Revenge Cover

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taut crime thriller.

Here’s a taster:

Much of the action in Hunter’s Revenge revolves around the car showroom and garage Thomson’s Top Cars. Here we meet Jamie and Frankie who are running the business while Jamie’s father, Ian, is in jail.

“I’m glad we’re doing this together,” Jamie said to his cousin. “I know having to leave us in charge is stressing Pop out!”

“Aye, probably more stress than his time in prison could ever have done. But at least you’ve passed your driving test now.”

Frankie could have been reading his uncle’s mind. Ian Thomson had just under two months to go before he was eligible for parole, and in the meantime could only hope that Jamie and Frankie didn’t do anything too stupid to ruin his business. At least the wee receptionist, Jenny Kozlowski, seemed to have a bit of common sense.

“I’ll be a bit late in today, Frankie, can you hold the fort?”

“Aye. What you up to, then?”

“Nothing much. It’s just that it’s Jenny’s birthday, and I’m going to pick up cakes for all of us for coffee break.”

“If it’s her birthday, she should buy the cakes. That’s what the rest of us all do,” Frankie protested. “You fancy her, don’t you?”

“Don’t be stupid!”

“Aye you do. Well, I won’t tell the guys in the workshop, if I can get a chocky doughnut.”

“Piss off, Frankie.”

“Am I getting a chocky doughnut, then?”

“Aye,” Jamie grinned.

***

Jamie was disappointed to see Frankie at the reception desk when he walked in.

“Where’s Jenny, cuz?” he called over to Frankie.

“Dunno. Not even a phone call. And she’s well late now.”

“Well, she must be somewhere, her coat’s here. She looks good in red.”

“Well she’s not anywhere, as far as I can see.”

“She’s usually early. Wonder what’s up.” Jamie rubbed his hands together. It might be spring according to the time of year, but with its wide glass front and the open garage at the back, the showroom was cold.

“She maybe went to get cakes,” Frankie suggested hopefully.

“Without her coat? I doubt it!” Jamie retorted.

“Well, she was probably out on the lash last night and slept in.”

“Could be, but I still can’t see her leaving last night without her coat.” Jamie shrugged and turned away, trying to hide his disappointment. “It’s fucking freezing in here. I’ll make us a coffee first to warm us up, then I’ll try phoning her.”

“Phone her first, Jamie. You know you want to.”

When Jamie wandered back to reception from the office he plonked a mug of coffee in front of Frankie.

“Her mam says she never went home last night. Do you know if she was going out with pals or the like?”

“I don’t know. You gave that guy a test drive in the Bentley and I went home. A fellow came in just as I was leaving, but Jenny said she would see to him because she would stay on and lock up with you.” Frankie smiled. “I thought, aye aye, nudge nudge, say no more. So off I went. I picked up the twins from their child minder on the way home. You know?”

Jamie frowned. “She wasn’t here when I got back, and the showroom wasn’t locked up. I was pretty pissed off about that. But I couldn’t see nothing missing, so when the guy said he wanted to think about the Bentley, I just locked up and came home.”

“Nothing was missing except Jenny, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that. I thought you’d both just buggered off.”

“Like we’d ever do that. Your pop would skin us alive when he got hold of us. Do you think I’ve got a death wish?”

“Funny accent the man had,” Jamie said. “European or something.”

“Jamie?” The head mechanic, Gary, called across the showroom. “Where’s that old blue Volvo that was waiting to go through its service?”

“What old Volvo? I don’t know. Don’t you keep a log of all the cars you work on?” Jamie asked angrily.

“Aye, but we didn’t get to this one yesterday. It was just waiting outside for us to get started this morning. The customer asked us to give it a service, then put it up for sale. Said he had a buyer for it who’d pay eight grand, but he might need a test drive first. I told him he’d need a brain test if he was paying that much for that car. But it seems like he was right; it must have been sold. ”

“So what happened to the paperwork?” Jamie shouted. “We’ve not sold any fucking old Volvo. Where is the damn thing?”

“No idea.”

“So what do I do now? Jenny’s not in, and a fucking car has gone missing. This is a truly rubbish start to the day. Pop is going to bloody skin me.”

Frankie shrugged, “Phone Jenny’s mam back? Maybe the man she spoke to took the Volvo.”

“I suppose I should. I don’t fancy it though. She shouts. I don’t think she likes me. Then what do I tell Pop about the car?”

“I think you’ll need a chocky doughnut before you do that. I know I will!”

“I’ll need more than a fucking chocky doughnut, Frankie, if we’ve lost one of his customer’s cars.”

author pic 2

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books.

Hunter's Revenge Banner

Enjoy!!!

One Cornish Summer! (or “What we did on our Holidays”)

A Blog post celebrating the paperback launch of Liz Fenwick’s latest book, One Cornish Summer. (her best to date!)

Cornwall is firmly linked in my childhood memories as THE place we went to on holiday. My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother bought a tiny fisherman’s cottage in St. Ives for £200 in 1948 after my Grandfather had died.

Every summer we would drive down from south Manchester, long, long before motorways existed. We would start at 5 in the morning and stop for a picnic breakfast on the A36 outside Gloucester, then Bath and the south-west, arriving as dusk fell. At that age, the journey was part of the holiday, although we always stopped at the same places through the day. I’ll gloss over the time my parents left me in my portable high chair, hanging from a farm gate. (they realized I wasn’t in the car after about 100 yards).

The A30 going into Cornwall was no better then than now! The road was slower, but the traffic was a lot lighter. There were some famous bottlenecks along the way; some of them are still there, re-designated as “road improvements”.

Holidays in St Ives were one long beach day after another. Porthminster, Porthmeor, Westcott’s Quay, the Harbour.

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On the beach near The Island, St. Ives

 

A family of four can’t fit in a tiny cottage, so half the family would decamp to stay with my uncle and aunt at their farm in Leedstown. A real old-style small Cornish mixed farm where my Aunt and uncle ran a herd of Channel Island cows, kept pigs and raised chickens. I still remember the year my uncle got a tractor! It was Dobbin the horse before that.

Just after the War, there were still fields being cut by scythe by a gang of miners when they came off shift. The farm had no electricity then, so taking a candle to bed was a real adventure.

 

My Uncle, Ralph Harvey James, came from a long line of Cornishmen, and his grandfather was the last Purser of the Botallack mine on Cape Cornwall.

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A modern shot of the front of Horsedowns Farm

Of course, when you are aged six, summers lasted forever, and the sun always shone. I have no memory at all of it raining! It seems we only remember the good times at that age.

 

 

A couple of years ago, we started holidaying in Cornwall again. While the family members are long gone, the magic still remains.

Perhaps with all that history, it was inevitable I would fall into writing historical romance. There is a book coming eventually featuring the Harvey James family!

John’s first historical novel, Heart of Stone, was published in October 2017 by Crooked Cat Press. Set in Ireland, and about more of John’s ancestors, it continues to garner 5* reviews.

http://viewbook.at/Heartofgoldlink

~ About Liz Fenwick ~

img_0087Liz Fenwick, award-winning author, ex-pat expert, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer, was born in Massachusetts, and at the age of twenty-six moved to London where she fell in love with an Englishman. After nine international moves, she now spends her time in Cornwall with her husband and her mad cat, writing stories inspired by the beautiful Duchy.

Find out more at www.lizfenwick.com, follow her on Twitter @liz_fenwick or visit her Facebook page @liz.fenwick.author.

~ Where to find One Cornish Summer ~

Goodreads            Amazon UK          Amazon US

And, from today, in bookshops everywhere!

On NOT Winning the Joan Hessayon Award.

First and foremost, this is SO much NOT A MOAN! The delightful Hannah Begbie duly won for “Mother” and spoke very movingly on accepting the award. I’ve already pre-ordered “Mother” and will be reading it as soon as it comes out in August.

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But, for me – we were ALL winners on the night. I would say to all those on the New Writers Scheme, YOUR turn will come. You will get published sooner or later, and when you do, you too will be up for the Joan Hessayon Award.

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This is, of course, both this year’s winner, Hannah, and last years winner, Kate Field. Those who were there will long remember their speeches. Both moving and affecting; they touched a chord in all of us.

Speaking personally, being in Oxford for the Award Ceremony – as well as the Summer Party, crowned a super year for me. It “set the seal” on the year, and to get the public recognition from my peers (peeresses?) in the RNA. A key life moment, I think, at least as far as my career as an author goes.

Writing a book are such a personal thing, and writing one and getting it out to press, be it conventionally or independently published, is such a strain, with disaster and rejection waiting at every turn, that finally, to be able to deliver your first “baby” to a high level of approval, and to acknowledge the unbelievable support and help given by the RNA members, friends and the New Writers Scheme readers (and not forgetting Immi)P1110988

There were four of us who are published by Crooked Cat at the party, and three of us up for the Joan Hessayon. Me, Sarah Stevenson, Awen Thornber and Lynn Forth.

Oxford was memorable in so many ways. While not so accessible for some, to have it in the Ashmolean Museum atrium was yet another highlight. The museum caterers seemed to do us proud with canapes and glasses of bubbly, and it was a really good “collegiate” feeling to buddy-up with all the other contenders for the award. Again, the word “contenders” seems to imply we were competing against one another. I certainly didn’t feel like that. We really were ALL winners on the night.

We also had the comforting presence of Marte Lundby Rekaa and her expertly-wielded camera. Its great to get professional quality pictures that we can use without restrictions. As I’ve always said  – I take snaps, but Marte takes pictures!

Some members of the New Writers Scheme may be unaware of the Hessayon name. The late Joan Hessayon was a long-time member of the RNA and a great supporter of the New Writers Scheme. The award is given in her memory, and is sponsored by her husband, Dr David Hessayon. If you have ever been into a Garden Centre, you will have seen his books on display. For many years they have formed an outstanding series of “Expert Guides” and have achieved world-wide sales figures that most of us can only dream of.  Just Google Amazon and Hessayon, and you will get a host of results.

Those nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award receive a cheque. I have already cashed mine. That’s the Winter Party and almost all my train fare taken care of! RNA parties are ALWAYS worth going to and I can’t think of a better use for the money.

Next up? Conference!