New Titles from Ocelot Press this Autumn – and More to Come

We’re delighted to announce the publication of three new titles this autumn, with more to come later on.

Sue Barnard’s Nice Girls Don’t and Finding Nina were launched last week. These two stories about family secrets are linked but can be read as standalones. They are available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.

Find out more about these titles by clicking the buttons.

Jennifer C. Wilson’s A New Page is a collection of historical short stories and poems featuring characters from kings to witches. A New Page will be released on 5th November 2022. You can pre-order the Kindle edition, and it will be downloaded automatically to your e-reader on the launch date.

We are also looking forward to releasing the first of Miriam Drori’s series of murder mysteries, Style and the Solitary, this autumn. Stay tuned for more news about that.

Never on Saturday Now in a French Edition

Sue Barnard’s Never on Saturday is now available in a French edition, entitled Jamais le Samedi. She tells us how this came about.

A few years ago, a friend in Paris suggested that my books ought to be available in French. It has taken a while, but it’s finally happening: my paranormal romance novella Never on Saturday is now available in a French version. 

Never on Saturday was first published in 2017, and a slightly revised version was issued in 2020. Jamais le Samedi tells the same story, but brings it a little closer to home. 

The story is set partly in medieval France and partly in present-day North Wales, and is based on an old French legend.  Unfortunately I can’t reveal here what the legend is, as that would give away too much about the plot – but rest assured that all will become clear by the end of the book. 

I’m hoping, in the fullness of time, to release French editions of some more of my titles.  I’ve recently made a start on The Ghostly Father (in French: Le Père Spiritueux), but that is a rather longer book and could take quite some time. But for now, please enjoy Jamais le Samedi. It has been a fun project!

Book Description in English

Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present…

Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiously optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life. 

She settles into her student accommodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one fascinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess. 

Then she meets Ray – charming, down-to-earth and devastatingly handsome. Within days, Mel’s entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled. Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.

But Mel’s dreams of happiness are under constant threat. She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray – or indeed anybody else – must never ever discover… 

Description du livre en français

Deux histoires, deux crève-cœurs : un passé, un présent…

Quittant sa France natale et arrivant dans le nord du Pays de Galles comme étudiante de troisième cycle en histoire et folklore, Mel espère pouvoir s’échapper à son passé troublé et de commencer une vie nouvelle et plus heureuse.

Elle s’installe dans son logement d’étudiant et commence à travailler sur sa thèse, faisant attention spéciale à l’histoire fascinante et tragique d’une princesse médiévale maudite.

Puis elle rencontre Ray – charmant, intelligent, et d’une beauté dévastatrice. En quelques jours, le monde entier de Mel est transformé de solitaire et frustré à aimant et comblé. Malgré avoir échoué dans les relations précédentes, elle se permet d’espérer que cette fois, enfin, elle pourra faire réussir cette relation amoureuse.

Mais ses rêves de bonheur sont perpétuellement menacés. Elle cache un secret sombre et terrible, que Ray – ou même n’importe qui d’autre – ne doit jamais découvrir…

Copyright © Sue Barnard, Ocelot Press 2022. All right reserved.

Ocelot authors write about their favourite historical figures

Who’s your favourite historical figure? There are plenty to choose from! Some are eternally famous, while others might have been prominent in their own time but have slid from recognition today.

Starting today, the Historical Writers Forum is organising a blog hop over a fortnight, in which seven historical fiction writers choose their favourite character from history and tell us why they find the person so fascinating.

Four Ocelot Press authors are involved:

Jennifer C. Wilson will write about Mary Queen of Scots, whom she has admitted to stalking before moving on to Richard III. Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth I after she was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James. Mary was held in captivity for more than 18 years and then executed, having been found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth.

Nancy Jardine shines the spotlight on General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, a Roman general who was responsible for much of the conquest of Britain, but who seems to have fallen out of favour later in his career. Nancy’s atmospheric Celtic Fervour series focuses on the struggles between the Northern tribes and the Roman conquerors.

Sue Barnard’s choice is William Shakespeare – a name that people can’t fail to be familiar with! The Bard of Avon’s plays Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar are the inspiration behind two of Sue’s Ocelot Press novels: The Ghostly Father and The Unkindest Cut of All.

Vanessa Couchman is on a mission to rehabilitate Pasquale Paoli, an 18th-century Corsican leader, who attempted to rid the island of Genoese rule. He headed the short-lived Corsican republic from 1755-1769, and combined the roles of statesman, lawgiver and general. He has a cameo role in Vanessa’s novel The Corsican Widow in her Tales of Corsica series.

Don’t miss our authors’ insights into their favourite historical characters.

Here’s the full programme of articles.

Food, Glorious Food!

This week (11-17 May 2020) is National Vegetarian Week here in the UK.  The aim of the event is to make more people aware of vegetarian food and to encourage them to try something new.  Whilst I’m not a vegetarian myself, I’m very interested in vegetarian cookery, and I’ve written a short post about it elsewhere, which you can read here.

But in any case, I never need an excuse to think about food – and that includes in my writing.  I like to use food as a metaphor, and it works very well in a romance-based plot.  It gives the heroine (and the readers) an insight into how much more enriched her life could be if she chooses to share it with the hero.

This can be seen in the following extract from The Unkindest Cut of All.  The heroine, Sarah, would be the first to admit that her cooking and housekeeping skills leave much to be desired.  Enter Martin, bearing culinary gifts and much more besides…

TUCOA front

 

Whilst [Sarah] was waiting for the kettle to boil she realised too late that the bread she’d been keeping for toast had gone mouldy. Ferreting around in the cupboard, she eventually unearthed a half-consumed packet of breakfast cereal of unknown vintage. As she poured a bowlful, she found herself thinking that it looked like lumpy sawdust. And as she took a mouthful, she found herself thinking that the resemblance didn’t end there.

When her phone rang, it was such a welcome diversion from her inedible breakfast that Sarah didn’t have time to wonder who on earth might be calling her so early on a Sunday morning. Her heart leapt as she saw Martin’s name on the display. She chewed furiously to empty her mouth of the tasteless gunge.

“Hello?”

“Sarah? It’s Martin. I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

Sarah usually had a stock response to this: “No, that’s all right – the phone was ringing anyway.” But this, she decided, was hardly the time for wisecracks.

“Hi, Martin. No, you didn’t. I’ve been awake for a while. Didn’t sleep terribly well, to be honest. How about you?”

“The same. Look, I need to talk to you. Can I come round?”

“Yes, of course.” Sarah’s heart leapt again. “When?”

“Any time now. I’m in the road outside.”

Sarah caught her breath. “Hang on. I’ll come to the door.”

By the time she had fumbled with her keys and got the front door open, Martin was already standing on the doorstep. He looked tired, but was smiling, and holding a bulging paper bag.

“Breakfast? I wasn’t quite sure what you’d like, so I got some of each.”

The bag felt warm in Sarah’s hands as she took it and peered inside. It contained two croissants and two large pains au chocolat. Sarah’s mouth watered as the buttery scent caressed her nostrils. She looked up and smiled gratefully. Martin’s eyes were as dark as the chocolate. She looked down again quickly, hoping that her cheeks didn’t look as flushed as they felt.

“Mmm. Thank you. These look divine. Please, come in.”

As Martin hung up his coat, Sarah gratefully cleared away her unfinished bowl of cereal and set out two plates and knives and an extra mug. Her earlier excavations in the cupboard had also yielded an unopened jar of apricot jam. She put this on the table too, positioning it carefully so that Martin couldn’t see the Best Before date…

 

The Unkindest Cut of All is an Ocelot Press publication, and is available in paperback and e-book formats.

VERSE AND WORSE

April is the cruellest month for poets.

It is National Poetry Writing Month (often shortened to NaPoWriMo, or sometimes just NaPo), which takes place every year throughout the month of April.  Each day a prompt appears on the NaPoWriMo website, and poets throughout the world are invited to take up the challenge and post their efforts on their blogs.  The latter probably calls for far more bravery than the actual writing.

I first did NaPo way back in 2013.  Here is one such pathetic effort from that far-off time:

THE BALLADEUSE’S LAMENT

There once was a wannabe poet

whose verses were dire, sad to say.

Then one April, she found NaPoWriMo:

thirty days of a poem a day.

 

Each morning she looked at the website,

and in the available time

she grappled with form, structure, metre,

enjambement, content and rhyme.

 

‘Twas the twenty-fifth day of the challenge:

“Write a ballad” the task on the site,

but by bedtime she’d still written nothing

and her muse had retired for the night.

 

She woke up at three in the morning

with a wondrous idea in her head,

but she could not write down this great epic,

for alas she’d no pen by her bed.

 

Then sleep once again overcame her

and hijacked her poor addled brain.

On waking, her great inspiration

had vanished like snow in the rain.

 

And if this sad tale has a moral,

it is this: always be on your guard,

for if you let go of the moment

you’ll never succeed as a bard.

 

My original blog, which you can find here, even owes its title to poetry.  Fans of Robert Browning (I’m sure there must be some of you out there) will probably recognise the sly reference to one of his best-known works.  Here is an unashamed spoof of one of his others:

THE PIED PIPER OF LIMERICK

A town in a faraway nation

had a terrible rat infestation,

about which the mayor

appeared not to care

(to the townspeople’s rage and frustration).

 

The plague had become so acute

that the townsfolk were quite resolute:

“We must do something here!”

Then who should appear

but a man in a weird coloured suit.

 

“I see you’ve a problem,” said he.

“Now listen: if I guarantee

to dispose of your rats,

give me one thousand crowns.  That’s

my fee.”  Said the mayor, “I agree.”

 

The stranger, with fingers a-quiver,

piped a tune which made all the folk shiver.

But the hypnotic air

made the rats leave their lair

and leap to their deaths in the river.

 

Oh, great was the joy in the town!

Then the piper said “My thousand crowns?”

When the mayor, looking shifty,

just offered him fifty,

the piper’s smile turned to a frown.

 

He glared, strode out into the square,

and, raising his pipe in the air,

played another refrain.

The town’s children came

and followed him – Heaven knows where.

 

The mayor’s desperate pleas went in vain,

for the children were ne’er seen again.

So the lesson inferred

is “You must keep your word”

and to think otherwise is insane!

 

And finally, in homage to Shakespeare, here are two limericks based on Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar (which inspired my Ocelot novels The Ghostly Father and The Unkindest Cut of All respectively).  My long-term aim is to produce a limerick for each of the Bard’s plays, but that is still very much a work in progress.

 

ROMEO & JULIET

Two households, one ongoing row;

sprogs meet and exchange true love vow.

Next day they are wed;

three days later, both dead.

Their tale makes me weep, even now.

 

JULIUS CAESAR

A soothsayer (very astute)

tries to warn of impending dispute.

But though told to beware

Caesar claims not to care,

then he’s killed by a backstabbing Brute.

 

If you’re still with me, well done.  Go and pour yourself a stiff drink.  

%d bloggers like this: