Friday, 29 March 2019

Last Chance Saloon

Last chance saloon a very commonly used phrase and especially for the UK at the moment. The media are using it to describe the political turmoil we are currently experiencing. However, last chance saloon can mean many things to many people. I have a significant birthday coming up very soon and because of that, I have decided I must audit my life. There are two areas that I think must be last chance saloon country.

The first is getting myself fitter and healthier. That means addressing my eating habits which have never been bad eg I do not indulge in chocolate, cakes and biscuits and never have. But now is my last chance to do my best to shed the weight, help my arthritis, lower my blood pressure, blah-di-blah. I have started one popular eating programme that has many foods I like which are free to eat. I am getting used to tomato puree on my toast under the scrambled eggs!!

The second is my writing and because this is an author’s blog, I suppose that is what I should be talking about here. 

What happens when an author comes to a crossroads and realises that he/she is never going to be as successful as JK Rowling? Answer: Rethink every aspect of their writing life. 

Last night, the following article appeared in my twitter stream. It made it abundantly clear that a powerless writer like me and millions of others, have an almost zero chance of improving our financial lot. The Nora Roberts' of this world have the resources to fight and, all power to her, she is fighting. Read this, writers (and non-writers) and weep.

So I and most of my fellows, are handicapped before we start. There will never be a level playing field for us because the scammers make too much money and Amazon doesn't care.

I have decided the only option is to change my mindset. From now on, I write when I want to, not as the full-time job I have made it for the past ten years. This will have additional benefits in that I can take up my hobbies again. I can find time to play the piano, sing, do my cross-stitch and paint my watercolours. I won't feel guilty taking a few hours out to drive somewhere and mooch around the shops. 

I think it might actually help my writing, in that doing other things and seeing the world around me will allow my subconscious the time to sort out that little plot glitch without me sweating over a hot keyboard. I can become a human being again, not a human doing, flying from one task to the next without having the time to take a breath.

As part of my writing last chance saloon, I have ordered some pens to send to friends and give to people who stand still long enough for me to put one in their hand. I will organise a proper schedule of tweets for my books, make sure this blog is a regular feature. And that, I am afraid, will have to do and if that means I remain a complete unknown, so be it. Wish me luck.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Georgia Pattison - a singing detective

In my last blog, I explained about my alternate history/fantasy Tudor trilogy, The Tudor Enigma, published by Harlequin. This blog is about my other detective, early-music soprano, Georgia Pattison.

Georgia Pattison, my contemporary detective, was conceived in 1978 - yes I am that old - when, as a member of the Three Choirs Chorus in Worcester, I took part in my first Dream of Gerontius by Elgar. What if, I wondered, the mezzo-soprano soloist delivered a flawless, uplifting performance as The Angel and was then murdered?

The resulting book, Dearly Ransomed Soul, a labour of love for over 30 years, went through many incarnations before the finished product emerged. Strange then, that I knew what the title would be within half an hour of sitting down to plot the book all those years ago and that has never changed. More about titles later.

My detective started off as a member of the Worcestershire Police, but I soon realised I needed an amateur sleuth and Georgia was born. She is not me, although I am a soprano and, when pushed, I can be quite as sarcastic as she sometimes is. I made her an early-music soprano because I love the clean lines and pure tone of early-music singers. No what some call sitting on the washing machine during the spin cycle wobbles with an early-music voice. If you want to hear the ideal - in my opinion - early-music soprano voice singing a perfect example of early music, listen to Emma Kirkby. You will find her singing Dowland's His Golden Locks here:

The Kindle edition of Dearly Ransomed Soul now on sale is the second issue, the first being published by Legend Press in 2008. If you have both versions, you will notice I changed the killer in version 2! What did this particular change teach me? That, just like Jeffrey Archer and Minette Walters to name but two, it is much more fun for the writer not to know who the killer is until well on in the writing of the book. This method, of course, would not suit authors who plan down to the last nut and bolt, what the writing community call “plotters”, but neither is it the opposite, “pantsers”, who plan nothing but sit down and put fingers to keyboard to see what happens. Like many writers, I am a mix of the two methods. 

Quite quickly after Dearly Ransomed Soul, I wrote Laid in Earth, the second full-length book of the series. This one melds the traditional detective story with a touch of thriller, and, of course, there is lots of music. After a hiatus of a few years while I wrote The Tudor Enigma for Harlequin, I returned to my gorgeous singer and decided she needed an introduction to the readers. Soon after Whistles After Dark appeared. Since then, Georgia has had a few Christmas adventures; The Midnight Clear, The Shepherds’ Farewell and The Bleak Midwinter. All of these are novellas.

The Georgia books are set in Worcester. I have sung all my life, but it was not until I joined the Worcester Festival Choral Society that I became immersed in the world of choral singing, meeting world-famous soloists and taking part in the annual Three Choirs Festival, which takes its chorus from the choirs of Worcester, Gloucester and Hereford. I was part of the Worcester music world for seven wonderful years. When we had to move to Yorkshire for family reasons, I was utterly bereft for months. I have sung in many choirs since, but never have I had the joy and wonder that I experienced at Worcester. And that is why Georgia is based there.

Those of you with a musical bent will have noticed that all the Georgia titles are musical. Dearly Ransomed Soul from Dream of Gerontius: Laid in Earth from Dido’s Lament by Purcell: Whistles After Dark is from the smugglers poem by Kipling, later put to music by Peter Bellamy. The Midnight Clear, The Shepherds’ Farewell and The Bleak Midwinter are all Christmas carols. 

One feature of the stories is that links to all the music mentioned in them are given at the end of the book.

The Bible says in my end is my beginning. In 2007, I was lucky enough to meet international mezzo-soprano, Janet Shell, on a cruise. Janet adores Elgar and singing The Angel from Gerontius. Janet woke up my desire to rewrite Dearly Ransomed Soul one last time and that version was picked up by Legend Press. I owe her a huge debt of thanks. in the years since, I have heard her sing Gerontius several times in various parts of the UK and, without prejudice, I can say her rendition of The Angel is, in my opinion, the best. In fact, one critic said her performance was better than Sophie von Otter. You can hear Janet Shell singing the final Softly and Gently from Gerontius here: 

All my books are available on Amazon. If you want to know more about me: 

Saturday, 2 February 2019

About me and my writing:
 My name is April Taylor and I have been writing stories since I was a child. I currently live in Lincolnshire but we are hoping to relocate to North Yorkshire sometime in 2019. We share our house with a mad golden retriever called Bodie.
In my former life, I was an information professional working in public and prison libraries – the latter had some very interesting moments! My last job before giving it all up for writing was as R&D Information Manager for a global pharmaceutical company and that’s where I met my husband. When I am not writing, I love reading, counted cross-stitch, singing and playing the piano and walking Bodie on the beach or in the Lincolnshire countryside.
In 2014, Harlequin published the first three books in The Tudor Enigma series. I do have 3 more to write but they will have to wait. I have other projects on the go but they are for the future. Next time I will tell you all about my early-music soprano, Georgia Pattison.
Book 1: Court of Conspiracy - 

England is the prize. The death of a young king is the price.

King Henry IX, son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, holds the very balance of European power in his Protestant hands. His numerous Catholic enemies have cast greedy eyes upon his crown and will stop at nothing to usurp the throne.

An unassuming apothecary in the Outer Green of Hampton Court Palace is the Queen's last hope.Luke Ballard treats the poor with balms and salves but is careful to protect his greater gifts. For Luke is also an elemancer, one of the blessed few able to harness elemental powers for good. His quiet life ends when Queen Anne commands him to hunt down the traitors, a mission he cannot refuse.

Beset on all sides, Luke mobilizes his arsenal of magic and ingenuity to conquer the enemy. But as the stakes are raised in the uneven battle of good vs. evil, he knows this is only the first skirmish of a lifelong war. The welfare of the Tudors—and England—depends on him alone. You can get Court of Conspiracy here:

Book 2: Taste of Treason

Blood, frogs and a deadly threat to the firstborn…

Luke Ballard, Dominus Elemancer and Privy Inquirer into Divers Mischiefs and Grievances, has grown his magical powers since his last encounter with the Sunderers, dark sorcerers who will stop at nothing—including partnering with England's mortal enemies—to destroy the throne. But is he skilled enough to protect his own and prevent tragedy from reaching the royal family?

The continuation of Tudor rule and the future of England's true religion rest with King Henry IX's new bride, Queen Madeline of Scotland. Pregnant with a possible heir, she's nearly killed—twice—in incidents that bizarrely mimic the Plagues of Egypt. And she is not alone. All of Hampton Court, it seems, has been surrounded by a dark cloud of otherworldly danger.

Fearful for his wife and unborn child, King Henry can only turn to one manYou can get Taste of Treason here: 

Book 3: Mantle of Malice

England's infant heir has been kidnapped, and there's only one man who can find him.

Luke Ballard has dedicated his talents—and his life—to protecting the throne. As Henry IX's Privy Inquirer and Dominus Elemancer, his loyalty is no longer in question. But when Queen Madeline's coronation is interrupted with the news that Arthur, the baby Prince of Wales, has been abducted, Luke is given an ultimatum: retrieve the royal heir and prevent future threats to the royal family or lose his head.

That the young prince has been taken by dark forces is clear. The evil sorcerers of Custodes Tenebris will not rest until they hold power in England with Catholic Mary as a puppet Queen. Luke has bested them before, but he's never needed to defeat evil while falling in love—Arthur's nursemaid, the beautiful Blanche Oliver, has won him over with her seductive charms.

As Luke's investigation leads into the dark recesses of his own family's past, Blanche's hold on him deepens. With the fate of the Tudors hanging in the balance, Luke will need to draw upon untested strength and sort truth from feminine fiction…for the enemy's reach is long and time is running out. You can get Mantle of Malice here:

LINKS: You can read more about me here:  Twitter  Amazon UK  Amazon USA YouTube

Last Chance Saloon

Last chance saloon a very commonly used phrase and especially for the UK at the moment. The media are using it to describe the political tu...