Guest author: Sheila Williams ~ St Tropez, a story extract and a NEW book!

Thank you to Sue Vincent for letting me loose on her blog site.

You can learn more about Sue and her work here: https://scvincent.com/about/

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

When I was fifteen my parents considered me sensible enough to go on an exchange holiday to France. Little did they know. I was excited, nervous. I had never been on holiday alone; I had never been in a plane; my french was execrable which didn’t matter anyway because being shy, I always became tongue-tied with strangers.

I flew from what was then, in the sixties, Yeadon airport (Leeds/Bradford airport). It was just a big shed really in comparison to airports now.  I arrived at Nice airport in the afternoon. It was then that things started to go wrong. No-one came to meet me. I waited and waited, getting more and more anxious. I considered ‘phoning my parents but I knew they would only tell me to come home. The stubborn streak in me wasn’t going to let that happen!

The problem was that I didn’t have the full address…

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TheWeave -#Fantasy -Out Now!

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It’s taken eighteen months, two full edits and countless revisions to turn my debut fantasy novel ‘The Weave’ from a two thousand word short story to a seventy-odd thousand word novel. I can almost quote it by heart.

It’s out on Amazon now – a bit earlier than anticipated. Here’s what it’s about:

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I’ve brought out the e-book first with a paperback to follow.

If you feel motivated to purchase for the incredibly affordable price of £2.99 (or equivalent) just click on the image above and it will whizz you to the Amazon page.

One final request – reader reviews are extremely important to authors. They are the prime influence on other potential buyers and help with Amazon rankings. If you do purchase ‘The Weave’ please leave a review. It doesn’t have to be a long screed – just a star rating and any comments you feel moved to make.

Now I’m looking forward to finishing the next book.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me spread the word. I appreciate your support.

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Promote Your Book Party!

A very generous offer which deserves sharing. Thank you Charles

charles french words reading and writing

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Hello to everyone! I want once again to offer an opportunity for all writers who follow this blog to share information on their books. It can be very difficult to generate publicity for our writing, so I thought this little effort might help. All books may be mentioned, and there is no restriction on genre. This includes poetry and non-fiction.

To participate, simply give your name, your book, information about it, and where to purchase it in the comments section. Then please be willing to reblog and/or tweet this post. The more people that see it, the more publicity we can generate for everyone’s books.

Thank you for participating!

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Celebrate and promote your writing! Shout it out to the world! Let everyone know about your work!

Feel free to promote a new or an older book!

I hope this idea is successful, and I…

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L’Eglise Rupestre – the Church in the Rock

The little village of Vals lies just off the D119 between Mirepoix and Pamiers.  There is just a huddle of houses and above the village what, at first sight looks like a fortified house or small chateau. Take a few steps further and you discover your mistake… it is, in fact, a church- the church of Note Dame de Vals. It is part-built into a large outcrop of rock – an eglise rupestre as they say in this part of the world.

The Church at Vals

Enter the church through a stout oak door and you are faced with a spiral stone staircase winding up through the rock.  Daylight from natural fractures and fissures in the rock lights the way.

The entry through the rock

 

The stairs through the rock

The stairs lead to the first of three levels.  The first level is the oldest dating from the tenth century  and lies in the heart of the rock. This part is the lower nave or sometimes called the crypt.

The lower nave or crypt

It feels a little spooky to be so entombed but the effect wears off especially when you look up to the ceiling where beautiful frescoes depict aspects of Christ’s life. The colours are gentle – chalk white, pale red, ochre and black -and dissipate the spooky effect.

Ceiling Frescoes

From this level a second staircase takes you to the upper nave, rebuilt  and extended upwards in the sixteenth century after a fire. Two colourful stained glass windows, installed in the nineteenth century filter soft light into the gloom.

the second level or upper nave

 

St George slaying the dragon

Go  further and you enter the little twelfth century chapel of St. Michael below the church tower itself. The tower was transformed into a defensive refuge during the fourteenth century and the whole site surrounded by a ditch. This was the time of the Hundred Year’s War and the tower protected the locals from incursions by bandits and ne’er-do-wells during these troubled times.

The fortified bell tower

On a bright and sunny November day where nothing is to be heard except for the occasional cow bell it is hard to imagine the villagers of the fourteenth century scurrying, at the tolling of the church bell, for sanctuary clutching their most prized possessions.

 

Altogether though, there is something mysterious and magical about the place.

 

 

#Fantasy #The Weave – The Witch and the Count

Since it’s the season for witches and warlocks, mischief and spooks, I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to Ombrine the witch in this, the last of my excerpts from The Weave. In this extract Oskar, Comte de Treville has come to seek Ombrine’s help.

 

“He wound through trees of pine, oak and larch following an ancient path and as he penetrated deeper into the forest all was silent. His horse’s hooves trod soft on a thick bed of pine needles and leaf mould stirring up a cooling, earthy scent around him. The light grew dimmer as the path narrowed and the trees thickened. The air felt damp and chilly. He shivered. After a while he could hear the sound of rushing water and he knew he was near the waterfall and cave where the witch dwelt.

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…He urged his horse forward until he reached a small grassy clearing in the heart of the wood. To one side lay a pool of limpid water into which a cascade tumbled and splashed. At the side of the cascade he saw the cave, its entrance cushioned with bright emerald moss and overhung by a tangle of brambles and scrub.

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A figure appeared in the cave entrance – a woman, small in stature and thin. She wore her black hair loose and flowing down to the waist. Oskar noticed her unusually round head and a face tanned by the sun, yet smooth and unblemished. Her eyes, the colour of autumn chestnuts, glowed as he dismounted and walked forward…

…The witch laughed. ‘I know why you have come, my lord. You seek my help. Your son is sick and like to die. You want my help, as do so many.’

Oskar nodded. ‘I do. I have heard you have potions to clear away the sickness. I have come to ask you the truth of this, and if it be true, to beg you to save my son. I will pay what you demand.’

The witch studied his face. Her eyes shone bright with malice.

‘It is a wonder, is it not, how the high and mighty will turn to me, so despised and abused as I am, when they need something that all the physicking of wise men cannot provide. I have no truck with such folk. But you, my lord, you are somewhat different, a little better than most. You have never harassed me nor set your hounds on me and I remember once how you stopped one of your village mobs from stoning me. You did warn me away from your people, it is true, and now I live out here in my cave. All the same, perhaps I owe you something. Enter, my lord, come in to my castle.’ She stood to one side and mockingly bowed him to enter.”

 

And so it begins… The Weave is out on 16 November on Amazon.

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#The Weave -Finding the Nonesuch Club

In this extract from The Weave, Richard an English author finds The Nonesuch Club and meets the inscrutable Oskar…

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At night the maze of narrow streets and dark alleyways seemed forbidding. Tall houses on either side of the streets leaned drunkenly against each other, many with a first-floor storey overhanging the street below, looming, somehow threatening. He shambled around the deserted streets with no particular direction in mind and found himself approaching the church via the Rue de Penitents Blancs. ‘I’m white and I’m very penitent,’ he shouted wildly, ‘so what are you picking on me for?’

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In reply a jagged shot of lightning ripped across the sky followed by the rolling crash of thunder. It began to rain – at first huge spattering drops and then a skin-soaking, flesh-numbing torrent. Another shot of lightning and the street lights flickered and died. Richard was plunged into blackness. Not a shard of light was to be seen – no glimmer through the closed shutters or lead-latticed fanlights, just blackness. ‘Oh yes, oh yes, very funny,’ he cried. He had forgotten that the thrifty council and citizens of Montain turned off the street lights at midnight during the tourist off-season and went to bed early.

He swivelled this way and that like a pointer dog casting for a scent. In the end he turned blindly to his right and slowly crept along the cobbled street. He muttered to himself. ‘If that was the Penitents’ Rue then I’m near the church and…’ but he was too befuddled. He gave up trying to work it out. Instead, holding his hands out in front of him he shuffled forward. At one point he was convinced he heard footsteps behind him and a flicker of fear grew. He tripped and stumbled on the cobblestones. Under the shelter of an overhanging roof he stopped and peered into the darkness behind him. He saw nothing. The rain poured off the roof spattering the pavement and splashing up the hems of his jeans. He looked behind him again and, in the flash of another lightning shot, thought he could make out a dark figure. Nervously, he began to shuffle forward again. He took just a few steps when he felt a touch on his shoulder. Whipping round, a trailing tendril of wisteria hanging loose from a house wall brushed his face. Thoroughly unnerved he panicked and turned down a side alley. He had no idea where he was. Again he felt a touch on his shoulder and he broke into a blind run, stumbling and splashing through the stone gutter that ran down the centre of the alleyway.

Then he saw it… just a glimmer of greenish-blue light ahead. Gasping, he half-ran towards it. He stood in front of huge wooden gates.

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Above the gates an old-fashioned oil lantern glowed dimly. On one of the gates a large bronze knocker in the form of a grotesque spider glimmered in the light. He hesitated then reached out for the knocker. One gate opened. He blinked nervously as a man appeared holding a large black umbrella. All he could make out of him was that he was tall and wearing evening dress. Before he could speak a voice, smooth and respectful, addressed him.

‘Do come in, sir, and shelter. It’s not a night to be out.’

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And that’s all for now, folks. To find out what happens to Richard watch out for the book… out 16th November.

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#Fantasy #The Weave #Poisonous Plants

In The Weave, the witch Ombrine uses a number of poisonous plants to create her potions, curses and magical deaths. Here is a scene from the book where, in 1605, she is teaching Oskar some of her herbal lore. She was particularly fond of using Wolfbane and Belladonna

“Over the next few days she taught him how to make …
The Dream Maker, made from a blend of Wolfbane, belladonna and the tiniest pinch of Datura, which acted on body and mind to fire off images and illusions drawn from the darkest, deepest emotions within a man’s soul.
‘You have to be very careful with Datura,’ she warned him, ‘since it is several times more poisonous than the other two… unless of course you want your victim to die a terrible death.’ She paused, giving him a gleeful smile.
‘You remember that captain in Hamburg? I slipped him a little too much after we parted him from his cargo of silk. A mistake on my part, I admit, but I am not one to have regrets. He was a coarse, base creature. No loss to anyone. I confess, I laughed when he hauled himself to the top of his ship’s mast thinking is was a ladder to God and then threw himself off, believing he could fly with the angels. Yes, this is one to be careful with.’
Then there was the Standstill, made primarily from monkshood and used to excite the blood and brain. Paralysis of the body swiftly followed but consciousness remained…”

Wolfbane (aka Monkshood) with its striking blue cowl-like flowers is highly toxic and has been used in times past for both hunting and warfare. In ancient & Chinese medicine, Wolfbane was used to slow the pulse and act as a sedative. And should you have a sudden need to detect a werewolf it is said that if you hold the flower under the chin of the alleged werewolf and a yellow shadow appears you know you need to get that silver bullet ready. Alternatively it used to be the fashion that you wrapped up the seed of Wolfbane in a lizard’s skin and wore it around the neck, as protection.

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Wolfbane

Belladonna has many names including Witch’s berry, Banewort, Black Cherry, Deadly Nightshade, Death’s herb, Devil’s Cherries, and Fair Lady. You can guess what a poisonous plant it is just by reading these names, While Belladonna is beautiful plant it is also quite deadly. It induces among other things hallucinations, psychic dreams, delirium and a seriously painful death.
Its common name- Belladonna – comes from an ancient cosmetic practice. Apparently women used drops made from the plant to dilate the pupils – an effect considered to be sultry and sexy.

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Bella Donna

Datura, also known as Devil’s Trumpets is a beautiful plant. It is highly toxic, hallucinogenic and deliciously scented. Due to the combination of chemical substances it contains, Datura can induce, among other things, delirium which usually incorporates the inability to tell reality from fantasy, muscle stiffness and temporary paralysis and memory loss.

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Datura

So what does Oskar do with his new-found knowledge and skills? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Out in mid-November.

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A Romany witch, a French count and English author all entangled in a centuries-old web of lies and deceit