Search This Blog

Sunday 29 November 2015

Cantamus Cantabile – Joy to the World

Last night, Jen’s choir Cantabile performed a programme of songs for the winter season at the nearby La Siesta church. The accompanist on the piano was Nataliya Khomyak, the MD Jennifer.

The weather had been good during the day and the church community had enjoyed a good fete, accompanied by a brass band. So the evening was not too cold at 7pm, the start time. Indeed, the church was almost filled to capacity with an appreciative audience.

They choir began with their theme song, written by Jen some seven years ago – Cantamus Cantabile. No choral concert would be complete without including something by the prolific John Rutter, so they began with his Dancing Day, a traditional Christmas song he arranged. This was followed by Charles Villiers Stanford’s beautiful setting of Mary Coleridge’s short poem: The Blue Bird. Alicia Muddle sang the solo soprano line.

Over a decade ago, when Jen was in a choir in Lee on Solent, one of her fellow choristers was Peter Wilson, who composed a Requiem as well as many other works for their choir. He gave her permission to use his Here’s a Baby, a Christmas song in the Caribbean style.

Here in Spain we’ve met a host of nationalities all who tend to rub along together. So it seemed apt for Jen to feature a piece by Jay Althouse and Sally Albrecht, I am a Small part of the World. Jan Robson sang the soprano solo.

Two solos followed. The first was written by Francesco Durante, who was born in Naples in 1684 and was considered one of the best church composers of his time; he only ever wrote sacred music. His song Virgin May, Fount of Love is a prayer by a sinner who begs for compassion and grace. Margaret Jennings sang this, Vergin Tutto Amor in Italian.

Pat Yardley chose to sing a traditional Russian song with the rather unassuming title of Polka a la Russe; however, she has renamed it more appropriately as The Little Russian Snow Girl, and she sang it unaccompanied.

Following immediately was Andrew Carter’s setting of a traditional French melody, A Maiden Most Gentle.

John Rutter’s Distant Land was next. Among his hundreds of works are carols, choral pieces, anthems, a Requiem, a Magnificat, a Mass to the Beatles, no less, and a concerto.

American composer John Peterson, as prolific as Rutter, has written over a thousand songs and 35 Cantatas. From his Christmas Cantata, Born a King, the choir sang Born a King, with Pat Yardley singing the introduction, and this was followed immediately by his Hail to Thee.
Two more solos followed: the prayer Ave Maria from Verdi’s Otello, sung by Alicia Muddle, and then La Vergine degli Angeli from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino was sung by Jennifer.

Then the choir sang a piece by American musical director and teacher Michael Clawson, expertly and intriguingly combining two pieces: The First Noel and Pachelbel’s Canon (which has sold over 600,000 copies).

Maintaining the winter ambiance, the choir sang Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind by John Purifoy and The Snow, a beautiful piece written by Sir Edward Elgar to words by his wife Alice.

Back in 2008, Jen was asked to write a carol for Cantabile. Quite a task; which part of the Christmas Story should she go for, it’s all so wonderful: the annunciation, no room at the inn, shepherds, ox and ass, wise men, the flight into Egypt? Too hard to choose, so she opted for the whole thing: Nativity!

The concert concluded with Handel’s Joy to the World, also sung by the audience.

There was a retiring collection for the upkeep of the church.
An excellent night for all concerned.




Friday 27 November 2015

FFB - The Ghost Dance

The Ghost Dance, the third in the sequence of six paranormal 'Night Hunter' thrillers by Robert Faulcon (Robert Holdstock) begins in the American west, where Mary Jane Silverlock, an attractive Indian has reluctantly agreed to undergo an esoteric transformation.  Why becomes clear later – but we know it has something to do with Dan Brady in England…

Dan is struggling to communicate with dead American, Ellen Bancroft. Her message is worrisome: Danger. From the west. Over the sea.

Mary Jane travels to England by arcane means, carrying within her an evil force destined to join with Arachne, the entity responsible for abducting Brady’s family (#1, The Stalking).

Dan Brady is drawn to Cumbria, specifically Maron Tor, and the town of Casterigg. Here he encounters a young girl, Kelly, her father Simon and her Uncle William – all of whom seem trapped in the town. Only he is capable of effecting their release.

And all the while, the evil contained within Mary Jane gets closer… and pyrotechnics are inevitable!

Another fast-paced tale, delving into the mysteries of shamen, black magic and supernatural elementals.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Black Friday sale - all Crooked Cat e-books

Today, Crooked Cat Publishing are offering all of their e-books for sale at a fantastic reduction.

This is your chance to pick up many excellent books at bargain prices - yes, only 99p/99c!

Their full range can be found here

Among them are seven of my books:

Spanish Eye
Blood of the Dragon Trees
Sudden Vengeance
The Prague Papers
The Tehran Text

which can be found here (Amazon UK) and here (Amazon US/COM)

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Writing – Visualise this: read a comic

It’s an old axiom: writers should read. We read all sorts, of course – from cereal packets to literary masterpieces. It’s all grist to the mill – the brain. Naturally, if you write in a particular genre, it makes sense to read works in that sphere. But if you want to bring freshness, sometimes it’s a good idea to read outside your favoured genre – outside your comfort zone, even.

If you’re writing contemporary fiction, you may believe you can wing it by not doing any research. That’s possible, but not highly likely. The modern world is complicated.

If your fictional world is in the future or on an alien planet, then you may think that since everything is ‘made up’, then ‘anything goes’ – but you’d be wrong. Characterisation, motivation, logic, genetics, science, history, magic – any or all of these subjects may be pertinent, not to mention types of clothing, armour, weaponry.

If you’re writing a historical novel, then research is definitely required; but don’t just stick to the history books, read fiction set in your chosen period – not to slavishly copy, but to absorb the place, the patterns of speech, the manners, and the everyday lives.
One resource writers might not consider is comics.
Comic books have been around a long time and have developed to a high degree of sophistication.

Comics – like those story-boards for movie-makers – help the viewer/reader visualise a scene and the action. Not all modern comics are action-packed, some are emotional in content, their characters with real-life issues. Not all comics are for kids, either.

Delving in my pile of magazines the other day, I came across a March 2003 copy of Write Now! ‘the magazine about writing for comics, animation and science fiction’. No longer in print, copies can still be purchased online. Within its pages is a lengthy article by Dennis O’Neil that may be of interest to all writers of genre fiction.  Dennis O’Neil is an award-winning writer and editor, now retired.

O'Neil first asks what is a story? His answer is that it isn’t a random slice of reality, but a structured narrative. That’s the essence: structured. Within that structure it should aim to evoke an emotional response from the reader and reveal character. Usually, without character there is no story. In the best stories, everything must count, and quotes from Poe: very word must be aimed towards a final effect. And with Poe we know what that effect should be!
He advises the writer not to waste words or images, because that’s a sure-fire way to bore the audience.
Naturally, for stories in comics, there are advantages: the visuals tell much of the tale. But good comics are a symbiosis of word and image. Fiction writers can do the same, to a certain extent, by visualising the scene – imagine you’re detailing the scene for an artist to draw. If you do that, then the reader can ‘draw’ the scene in their head.
Comics invariably have constraints thrust on the writers/artists – number of pages and preferred ratio of image/text, often depending on the publisher. Genre writers have similar constraints, in all probability – length of book (word-count). So, descriptions may have to be broad visual brush strokes and not contain too many complex sub-plots – unless you’re writing a series!
He pleads for clarity – establishing characters and conflicts early on. Within scenes, make sure there is no confusion – do you know where everybody is standing, what they’re doing? Employ that inner artist to ‘draw’ the scene.

Dialogue: it should be obvious who is talking at any time. In comics, this is easy – we have those speech bubbles, but even these cues are cunningly placed to move the story forward, from character to character, panel to panel. In your fiction, you can attribute speech without labouring the point. If there are only two characters speaking in the scene, then you don’t need ‘he said’ or their names most of the time. Speech in comics is usually brief – minimum number of lines per bubble. In reality, that’s the case too: avoid lengthy speeches, edit it down to fit the ‘bubble’.
He advocates never simply inserting a character; that person has to have a reason, a purpose for being in the story.

Always keep in mind what he calls the ‘story spine’: what the story is about. Its theme, its ‘message’, its reason for being!
Story must have conflict – it may be emotional rather than physical. There must be something at stake: the set up.
The story must lead to the most powerful moment: the win or lose instant.

In all likelihood, if you use ‘structure’ in your story, you’re going to provide pacing which will produce a page-turner.
Basic structure can vary, as nothing is immutable, but it’s always worth knowing what works, and then twist it afterwards to your own ends:
Inciting incident
Situation and conflict
Critically reading comics can emphasise these guidelines and prove helpful in your genre fiction writing.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Writing – chapter headings

I’ve mentioned elsewhere in my blog that I’m addicted to chapter titles. I suspect there’s no cure for it.

I have no problem with books that don’t have them – either a number ( - 1 - ) or the written word (Chapter One) are fine; they do the job.

Chapter breaks serve to provide a breathing space for the reader, perhaps, or signal a change in scene or direction, or move on from a cliff-hanging end-of-chapter scene. Simple breaks (flagged with asterisks or a couple of blank lines or some other symbol) do the same. Invariably and ideally, the suspense or tension at the end of a break won’t be as dramatic as that at the end of a chapter. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter, so long as your story draws the reader to read to the next section.

Chapter headings can be convoluted, explaining what is going to happen in that chapter; this harks back to the late 1800s. I’m not keen on those, as a reader I like to discover what happens as the story unfolds.

Some chapter headings are like bookmarks, so if you want to refer back to an event, a key-word or phrase might guide the reader there. 

I tend to opt for the latter. However, I also like to play word-games when I can, without straining to be too contrived.  The heading still has to be relevant to the content, of course. Take for example the two latest books published, Catalyst and Catacomb; for the former, half of the chapter headings refer to ‘cat’ in some way:


1 – Cat among the pigeons
2 – Cat and mouse
3 – Bradbury & Hood
4 – Cat’s tail
5 – Cat’s fish
6 – Catch up
7 – Worrying a bone
8 – ‘Cat got your tongue?’
9 – Cat on the roof
10 – ‘Let slip the dogs…’
11 – Cat and the lion
12 – Catananche
13 – ‘… tear each other apart…’
14 – Malefice
15 – Extinguished
16 – Becoming a habit
17 – In the news
18 – Bear this worthily
As for Catacomb, again half relate to a cat:
Prologue – Dogs of Law
1 – Cat on a hot wet roof
2 – Marmalade cat
3 – Caterpillar
4 – Cat’s mint tea
5 – Russian blue cat
6 – Paraphrasing Mark Twain
7 – ‘Dirt of the world’
8 – Catsuit
9 – ‘Avenging cat’
10 – Fuller’s earth
11 – Whiff of kif
12 – Catacomb
13 – ‘Call me Cat…’
14 – Hand of Fatima
15 – Travesty of Jackson Pollock
16 – Hugs and nightmares
17 – Last sunset
18 – ‘No last words?’
19 – End it once and for all
20 – Nine lives
I’m sure if I tried very hard, I could have increased that percentage, but then it would have really appeared to be contrived!
Next month, if you so wish, you can compare the chapter headings in Cataclysm…!
KOBO books

Sunday 22 November 2015

Blog guest – Shani Struthers

No safe haven – Psychic survey team finds something insatiable

Hi, Shani, and welcome. I had a premonition that you’d be here today. Tell me about your new book…

Thank you for hosting me on your blog.

My new book, Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story launches on the 24th November on Amazon and is the prequel to the popular Psychic Surveys series. Featuring two of the Psychic Surveys team – Theo Lawson and Vanessa Patterson – it’s set between 1899 and 1999 and is loosely inspired by a true event.

In my fictional re-telling, Theo and Ness are asked to investigate a town weighed down by the sorrow of what happened 100 years before…

This is the blurb:

What do you do when a whole town is haunted?

In 1899, in the North Yorkshire market town of Thorpe Morton, a tragedy occurred; 59 people died at the market hall whilst celebrating Christmas Eve, many of them children. One hundred years on and the spirits of the deceased are restless still, ‘haunting’ the community, refusing to let them forget.

In 1999, psychic investigators Theo Lawson and Ness Patterson are called in to help, sensing immediately on arrival how weighed down the town is. Quickly they discover there’s no safe haven. The past taints everything.

Hurtling towards the anniversary as well as a new millennium, their aim is to move the spirits on, to cleanse the atmosphere so everyone – the living and the dead – can start again. But the spirits prove resistant and soon Theo and Ness are caught up in battle, fighting against something that knows their deepest fears and can twist them in the most dangerous of ways.

They’ll need all their courage to succeed and the help of a little girl too – a spirit who didn’t die at the hall, who shouldn’t even be there…

Excerpt from Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story:

As Theo turned round to face the double doors, she had a feeling that someone - something - was rushing at her, as fleetingly as whatever had been in Adelaide's house. Refusing to let fear get a stranglehold, she turned back, her aim to confront it. A black wisp of a shape, like wood smoke, sideswiped her, before fading into nothing. Staring after it, wondering what it was, something else caught her attention. At the far end of the second room was something more substantial: a little girl, staring at her.

Theo's eyes widened. "Oh darling, darling," she whispered. She took a step forwards, tried to remember the names of the children on the list from earlier: Alice, Helen, Bessie, Adelaide's ancestor, Ellen Corsby perhaps. Which one was she?

She inched closer still. "Darling, your name, tell me what it is."
The little girl's arms moved upwards, she stretched them out, her manner beseeching although she remained mute. Theo tried again, told the child her own name.

"It's short for Theodora. I bet you're called something pretty."
The girl had a dress on; long, brownish, a course material - linen perhaps? Nothing special but if it was her party dress then maybe it was special to her. Her boots were brown too - lace ups, sturdy looking. She was around eight or nine but it was hard to tell. She could have been older just small for her age. Her hair was brown and tangled; she had a mane of it. Everything about her seemed to be brown or sepia, maybe sepia was the right word, as though she'd stepped out of an old photograph.

"I'm here now, sweetheart, I've come to help. You've been here for such a long time. Too long. You need to go to the light, go home, rest awhile."

Up closer, Theo could read her eyes. The longing in them stirred her pity.
"Let me help you," Theo persisted, her voice catching in her throat. As glorious as the other side might be, she still felt it unfair to be felled at such a young age. Often this was a good existence too and it deserved to be experienced fully.
She was close now, so close and still her arms were outstretched.
Harriet - the name presented itself whole in her mind.
"Your name's Harriet. Is that correct? It's lovely, it suits you."
Was that a smile on the child's lips, the beginnings of trust? Soon she'd be able to reach out and touch her. What would she feel like? Cold? Ethereal?
"Darling, I'm here," she repeated, no more than a foot between them. "I'm here."
Joy surged - one spirit had come forward - it was an encouraging start.

Just before their hands touched everything changed. Hope and joy were replaced with confusion as something sour - fetid almost - rose up, making her feel nauseous.

"Don't be afraid," Theo implored. Yet there was nothing but fear in her eyes now. No, not fear, that was too tame a word - terror.
"I'm not here to harm you," she continued. "I'm here to help."
As the words left her mouth, other hands appeared behind the child, a whole sea of them - disembodied hands that clawed at her, forcing her backwards.
"No!" Theo shouted. "Stop it. Leave her alone!"
But it was no use. Her words faded as the girl did. She'd been torn away, recaptured; the one who'd dared to step forward. Theo could feel sweat break out on her forehead, her hands were clammy. She clutched at her chest, her breathing difficult suddenly, laboured. Her heart had been problematic of late, a result of the pounds she'd piled on. She must go to the doctor to get some medication. Struggling to gain control, it took a few moments, perhaps a full minute, before her heart stopped hammering. And when it did, she remembered something else. The girl's eyes - her sweet, brown, trusting eyes - when the expression changed in them they hadn't been looking at her, they'd been looking beyond her. Was it at the thing that sideswiped her? Theo couldn't be certain. She wasn't certain either if that 'thing' was a spirit or much less than that - something with no soul, but with an appetite, an extreme appetite: a craving. Something, she feared, was insatiable.

Thank you, Shani. A couple of spooky coincidences there, too. Thorpe Morton - hmm: my first published book's hero was James Thorpe and the pen name I used was Ross Morton (Death at Bethesda Falls)...!

I wish you well with Eve.

    Shani Struthers

Author Bio

Shani is the Brighton-based author of paranormal fiction, including UK Amazon Bestseller, Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall.

Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, is also available.

Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story – is the prequel to the Psychic Surveys series.

She is also the author of Jessamine, an atmospheric psychological romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and described as a 'Wuthering Heights for the 21st century.'

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is in progress.

All events in her books are inspired by true life and events.

Catch up with Shani via her website
or on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Facebook Author Page:

Friday 20 November 2015

FFB - The Talisman

#2 in the Night Hunter series by Robert Faulcon [Robert Holdstock](1983)

Dan Brady witnessed the abduction of his wife, daughter and son at the hands of Satanists, who  took them for undisclosed purposes. They left him for dead in the first book, The Stalking. Yet he survived and discovered there was a dark organisation, Arachne, literally hell-bent on using his daughter’s nascent psychic powers.

In this book, Brady’s search for his family takes him to Norfolk, the fenlands where an ancient curse has been awakened by the enemy. The atmosphere that Faulcon creates is definitely spooky, and you’re certainly left guessing who is innocent and who is a depraved follower of Arachne.

It’s a tale told at a pell-mell pace and a worthy successor to the first book; gruesome and graphic in places. The origin of the Talisman is haunting and tragic, providing Brady with one more crucial yet confounding piece of the jigsaw.

Compelling storytelling: I’ve started #3, The Ghost Dance.

Note: Faulcon seemed to have a fixation with the letter ‘A’ when choosing characters for this story: Alison, Angela, Andrew, Agnes, Anita and Alan!





'Something for the weekend'

The phrase has nothing to do with barbers ...

It's a regular feature on successful author Shani Struthers' Friday blog. Today, she has kindly invited me to talk about the 'Genesis of the Cat', so if you're feline fine, please pop over to:

Hope to see you there!

And have a great weekend.

By Shani Struthers

Psychic Surveys, Book One - The Haunting of Highdown Hall
Psychic Surveys, Book Two - Rise to Me

Thursday 19 November 2015

Writing - Catalyst for a series

If we’re to believe the experts, books in series are very popular and ‘sell’. This makes sense. Look at the popular TV and movie series that draw viewers in the millions. The audience – the readers, the viewers – like the familiar world of the characters, even though they still want to be stretched by a constantly moving story with twists and turns.

Writing a series is not easy, and sometimes the original writer might not have even intended to pen a series. There are perhaps two approaches:

1.     A character or set of characters cry out for more treatment, more adventures, so a series is born – perhaps extending from a sequel

2.     The writer plans a situation or a number of plots and creates characters who have the longevity to span more than one novel

I suspect that Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe didn’t begin as a series, no more than C S Forester’s Hornblower. But their characters demanded more – including books harking back to their past. The back stories of both Hornblower and Sharpe were novels written some time after the first book in the series was published. The Richard Bolitho novels by Alexander Kent (Douglas Reeman) also followed this pattern, written out of chronological sequence. [Interestingly, Reeman’s first book was published in 1958 and his latest was in 2011; he’s now 91].

Unintended series
Usually, these begin with the nagging requirement to write a sequel. Sequels tend to demand to be written because the hero or heroine has unfinished business. In actual fact, the author has invested time and emotion in the character and it is painful to leave that ‘person’ in limbo (even if it was ‘happy ever after’). And of course in the writing of the sequel, more story lines insinuate themselves into the author’s psyche. This kind of series can present the biggest problem for the author, because sometimes the first book has presented a kind of strait-jacket, a constriction that has to be broken to allow for more free rein in the future. That strait-jacket might be a job or a spouse; either of which may have to be jettisoned for the series to continue.

Intentional series
A series can be rewarding not only for the reader, but also for the author. Naturally, to begin with salient points have been mapped in the main character’s life, to progress the series. But it’s the putting on of flesh that makes the project so intriguing. I’m a great believer in planning a book, but within that plan there’s still scope for diversions that might provide material for later adventures. These diversions may be caused by new characters being introduced or by unexpected events precipitated by the plot device.

The planned series begins with a central idea. A mission for the hero or heroine. A goal or a quest. The black magic series Night Hunter by Robert Faulcon (Robert Holdstock) began with black magicians kidnapping the hero’s wife, daughter and son for nefarious purposes, leaving him for dead. He survived and began delving into the supernatural, seeking clues to the whereabouts of his family, his quest sustained for six books (1983-1987). Pick a genre and you’ll find hundreds of series books in that genre: crime, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, for example. You can search for series and get some surprises too.
This site is quite interesting. I was surprised at the dominant series titles – but bear in mind that the more books in the series, the more votes/readers that series is likely to get:

I’m dipping my toe in the series concept with two strands: The Tana Standish Spy Series and the Avenging Cat series.

The ‘Avenging Cat’ begins with:
Catalyst – which introduces Catherine (‘Cat’) Vibrissae who is on a mission of vengeance against Loup Malefice, CEO and owner of Cerberus, a global company of dubious ethics.

“Yes,” Avril said. “I get a small retainer from one of the anti-pollution groups, DOSE - Defenders of Sacred Earth. Not much. But they want me to continue, just in case anything goes amiss. They keep quoting PCB pollution at me. I point out that the stuff’s banned, but they insist I carry on checking. Distrustful lot…” She shrugged. “But they pay.”

Len tapped his fingers on the desk. “PCBs?”

Polychlorinated Biphenyls,” Cat said. “Highly toxic, used in the manufacturing processes of paints, adhesives, polish, electrical equipment. Firms were pretty cavalier with it…”

Len chortled. “Is this the chemist in you coming out now?”

“You’re a chemist?” Avril said.


Avril leaned forward, in interrogator’s mode. “But I thought you were a model.”

“I’m both. Modelling pays better – and my hours aren’t so regular.’

Avril narrowed her eyes, faced Len. “Cathy’s right. PCBs were banned in the late 1970s, early 80s.”

“Well,” Len said, “that’s all right, then, surely?”

“No, not really.”

Cat explained, “What Avril means is that PCBs can remain in seawater for a thousand years…”

 Catacomb – continues on Cat’s vengeance trail, this time taking her from Nice to Morocco.

That evening, they all sat at a long table, Gerard on her right, Rick on her left. Opposite were Howard and Abdel. The walls of the dining room were adorned with oil paintings, landscapes, views of Tangier, and seascapes, all executed by Gerard. “You’ve captured the light perfectly,” Cat said. “Your style reminds me of the Orientalists.”

            “Why, thank you, my dear. I simply adore Delacroix.” Gerard wore a cravat, a red silk shirt and loose flannel trousers with open-toed sandals. Quite the Bohemian, she thought.

            Glad to be free of trousers and shirt this evening, she’d chosen a simple black dress. But out of respect for Abdel, she’d draped her shoulders with a wispy black lace shawl that covered the enticing generous ‘v’.

            Howard nursed his Volubilia Gris, a white wine he recommended, and stared away into memory. “I remember you wearing that black ensemble, it seemed more like mourning clothes – except for the revealing d├ęcolletage, I might add.”

            “And no visible panty line, as I recall,” chimed in Gerard with glee.

            “Because,” Cat replied, “I wasn’t wearing any.”

            Howard guffawed.

            “I’ve been to some of Cathy’s fashion shows,” Rick said. “I’m sure she’d appear elegant even in a bin-liner!”

            She closed her hand over his and squeezed it. “Thank you, kind sir.”

            Gerard chuckled. “I agree. Elegant even in glitzy tat!”

            Howard whooped loudly. “Sheer dress, sheer wantonness!”

            “Remember that wedding dress with the see-through top?” Gerard chortled. “A few eyes popped at that!”

            “I can imagine,” Rick said.

            Shaking his head, Howard moaned. “The new trend seems to be to expose what is usually covered and to cover what used to be exposed. I can’t say I like it much. It loses the allure.”

            Cat smiled at Abdel, who appeared uncomfortable, his face slightly flushed, as if unsure where to rest his gaze. “The pendulum will swing, as it always does. Ignore these critics, Abdel, they’re only baiting me.”

            “I know, Cathy. But it is–”

            “Unseemly,” chimed in Howard. “You’re right. We should behave better with our guests.” He winked at Gerard.

            “Consider us both chastised.” Gerard coyly lowered his lids.

            “Now, tell us,” Howard said, leaning close to her, “why are you really here?”

            “Am I that transparent?”

            “Utterly see-through, my dear.”

            Keeping to only a few details, she explained about Loup Malefice’s machinations and her discovery that he’d had her father killed.

Cataclysmis due out next month and sees Cat in China, determined to confront Malefice once and for all in Shanghai. But complications arise before she can achieve that goal…
After so long apart, Cat and Rick fell into each other’s arms when they got inside the city apartment. No sooner had the door shut behind them, their cases shoved to one side in the hall, than they began undressing each other on their way to the bedroom.

            Afterwards, as they snuggled close on the bed, she said, “It still hasn’t sunk in. All the money I’ve been bequeathed.”

            “You can do almost anything, go anywhere.”

            “I’m not going anywhere without you, Rick.” She hugged him, kissed him on the lips.

            “You don’t have to continue with your crusade, you know.”

            “I sort of promised. You were there.”

            “Yes, but it can be all done legally – no more abseiling down buildings!”

            “We’ll see – after Shanghai.”

            “All right, I’ll settle for that.”

            “I hope we can get the paperwork sorted and find a seat for you on the plane.”

            “Me too. I hated us being separated. I know it was for a good reason…” His voice choked off.

            “I know, darling. I feel awful.”

            “It’s sad, Cathy. But it also makes you grateful to be alive… You never know how long you’ve got left, do you?”

            “Live for the moment?”

            “Yes.” He kissed her. “Something like that.”

            “I told you about Daddy’s great affection for Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.”

            “Yes, you did. So?”

            “He wrote, ‘In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful’. Long or short, our lives should be lived for the ‘now’, not dwelled upon in the past, nor blindly yearning for an unknowable future.”

            “That’s quite a philosophy. Seize the day?”

            “I’ve seized something, I think…” she purred playfully.

            “Hmm… so you have…”

The Tans Standish Spy Series is about Tana, a psychic who works for the British Intelligence Service, and begins with:

The Prague Papers – which finds her in Czechoslovakia, 1975, some seven years after her last mission there during the Soviet invasion. This time, she has to identify a traitor and in the process loses some friends.
The Tehran Text – takes Tana to Iran in 1978, having recovered from the trauma of the Czechoslovak mission. She needs all her psychic powers and guile to evade the Shah’s secret police, while attempting to preserve the life of friends.

I hope you can join me in these series, and enjoy the ride!
If you’re keen on spy fiction series, then drop by here

Randall has amassed a phenomenal amount of information – 800+ series comprising some 5800+ books as well as covering 200+ movies and 1200 TV shows).  I’ll be featuring a blog post about Randall soon.