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While visiting the Isle of Arran, I was determined to visit Brodick Castle, owned by the Hamilton family for 450 years. It turned out to be a forty-five-minute walk from the town of Brodick to Brodick Castle, but it was worth it.

I walked through a peaceful park

and over a bridge with a swan in the river!

I carefully trampled through a golf course with appropriate warnings,

along a busy road and through gorgeous gardens with fabulous views of the sea.

Convinced I was lost, I walked around a corner and saw…this!

Brodick Castle

I opened the front door and discovered an intriguing world from the past.

The family crest with their motto “through”
My favourite room, the library
The drawing room
The amazing ceiling with a Waterford crystal chandelier!
The kitchen
With bread in the oven
The amazing gardens with the sea in the background
Gardens with a Bavarian summer house built as a place to rest.
And a crow posing for me
The back of the castle towards the end of the day
photo by Terry Tyler

Someone took a picture of someone taking a picture of me!

The original castle was built in the late 1200s and was initially a fortification due to its strategic location overlooking a wide sheltered bay. Over the centuries it has been a defensive stronghold, a hunting lodge and a family home. It has gone through many transformations, but for five generations, the Hamilton family, used the castle as a place of relaxation and pleasure until it was donated to the National Trust in 1957.

I was very glad I made the trek to visit this amazing castle, filled with stories and treasures from around the world. It is also purported to be haunted!

The launch date for Casey Holland #7, A Gold Satin Murder (a novella) by Debra Purdy Kong is on Thursday, September 8th. I love this series and am pleased to have fellow Canadian author, Debra Purdy Kong, here as a guest to tell us more about her latest book. Check out the other books in the series here

With six published full-length mysteries in the Casey Holland series, why write a novella?

Members of my writer’s group asked me this question when I brought the first few pages for feedback. The answer is that I wanted to stretch my creativity with this series. Although the earlier Casey Holland mysteries do have lighter moments, they are serious stories. I decided to switch the focus to a fun, light story with serious moments. To do this, I needed to create an uncomplicated plot and fewer characters. Since this is still a whodunit, readers can follow Casey along in trying to figure out the killer’s identity.

While working on an early draft of A Gold Satin Murder I’d been writing other novellas (generally 17,500-40,000 words) for a small press. I discovered a love for this length, not only as a writer but as a reader. When life is frantic, it takes me nearly a month to read a 300+ page book. I often forget the roles and relationships of the characters as well as the subplots. So, it seemed logical to write a book that could be read in one or two sittings. From a writer’s standpoint, revision is a quicker process. Where it might take me from two to six months to edit the second draft of a full-length novel, a novella can be edited in a few days.

The idea for this book popped up over six years ago, however, other projects kept me from working on this novella consistently. Given the many challenges facing people these days, it seems timely to release a light, fun story. If I can bring a smile to a reader’s face, then I’ve achieved my goal.

Launch day is September 8, but you can pre-order now:

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Debra_Purdy_Kong_A_Gold_Satin_Murder?id=FxF_EAAAQBAJ

Blurb for A Gold Satin Murder:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

Debra’s Bio:

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provided the background for her Casey Holland transit security novels.

Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She is a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation and a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Connect with Debra at:

Blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com/

Newsletter: https://sendfox.com/debrapurdykong

Website: www.debrapurdykong.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraPurdyKongAuthor

Email: dpurdykong@gmail.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.ca/Debra-Purdy-Kong/e/B000APLEFU/

I was a beta reader for this story and just loved it. Here is a sneak peek at the first chapter.

A Gold Satin Murder by Debra Purdy Kong

After a decade of security work for Mainland Public Transport, Casey Holland had learned that troublesome passengers were usually rude, loud, and poorly dressed. But the gorgeous, broad-shouldered man in the charcoal suit, white shirt, and bright red tie strutting down the aisle was a new, intriguing challenge.

The moment the man spotted Casey, he gave her a broad, toothy smile. Cool. Her silky, low-cut tank top and dangling crystal earrings were doing their job. Undercover assignments rarely involved dressing up, but passenger complaints about a hot guy who’d been badgering women to model for his paintings required a different fashion choice. Besides, the bus was way too warm this late-July evening. The less she had to wear the better.

Casey winked at the man, then tilted her head toward the empty seat next to her. He slowed his pace and nodded to the gaping middle-aged woman he passed by. Judging from a quick survey, the man had caught the attention of most passengers. The men didn’t look as impressed as the women, though.

“Hola, señorita.” Gold-flecked brown eyes glanced at her hands as he sat down. “I am Eduardo from Ecuador.”

“Casey. From Vancouver,” she replied. “How are ya?” To reveal she was a señora who’d been happily married for just over a year might put him off, so the wedding rings stayed home.

“Excelente.” He beamed. “I am here only three months, but I am in love with Vancouver. It has many interesting people.”

“That it does.” His cedarwood and vanilla cologne sent a jolt of nostalgia through Casey. When Dad was alive, she occasionally gave him a bottle of something similarly scented for Father’s Day. She sat up straighter and zeroed in on Eduardo. Not the time for reflection.

“I apologize if my English is not so good,” Eduardo said.

“It sounds fine to me.” She smiled. “Do you live in this part of the city?”

“Si. Only one block away. I love to walk and ride the buses and talk to people.”

He’d have many opportunities to do exactly that in Vancouver’s densely populated West End. Thanks to nearby Stanley Park, the popular English Bay beach, and many eateries, the area attracted tons of tourists as well as visitors from other areas of the Lower Mainland.

“Your eyes!” Eduardo slapped his hand over his heart. “La violeta. Extraordinario! I have not seen such a shade before. I am professional artista. May I paint you? It would be great honor! You are so be-eau-tiful.”

“Thank you.” Great honor and beautiful were the exact words two of the complainants had used in their written statements. “So, how many women have you approached about painting their portraits, especially while riding this bus?”

“Qué? Eduardo’s smile faded. “Why do you ask me this?”

“I’m with Mainland Public Transport security.” She showed him her ID card. “We’ve had harassment complaints about you. One woman threatened to involve the police if it happened again.”

His eyes widened. “This cannot be.”

“The complaints said you wouldn’t take no for an answer until they either changed seats or left the bus.”

Eduardo sat back in his seat. “I am stupefied!”

Casey didn’t buy the naïve act. “Harassment of any type on MPT buses is against company policy.”

He fidgeted, not quite meeting her gaze. “I am just a single man who loves ladies and to create art.”

Eduardo produced a business card depicting an elegantly designed maple tree with crimson and tangerine leaves. But anyone could create a card and pass himself off as an artist.

“Is difficult to find models in new city. Art schools are filled up.” He frowned. “And many ladies choose to sit next to me and ask what I do to earn money.”

She believed him. Given the lusty stares a couple of women were tossing his way, Eduardo had probably found more than a few willing models and dates.

“Is it wrong to talk about art, or to ask a be-eau-tiful lady on a date? I might break bus rules, but I am not breaking real laws, no?”

Casey sighed. “Are you and I going to have a problem?”

He raised his hands, palms facing her. “I do not want trouble, but I must pursue my art.”

“Eduardo, the rules are there for a reason. They also give me the authority to kick you off any MPT bus if you’re breaking them.” Casey paused. “If you’re going to discuss portrait painting, then be clear about what you want. If you’re turned down, then I strongly advise you to leave the passenger alone. I assume you expect to be paid for your portraits?”

Eduardo nodded. “I do this not only for money but to find true soulmate.” He lowered his head. “I am not so lucky in love. Is heartbreaking road filled with big potholes.”

“Uh-huh.” She studied him. “Do you think you’ll find love on a bus?”

“I search everywhere.”’

Eduardo’s expression and demeanor seemed sincere, but she had her doubts about this guy.

“You must have tried dating apps,” she said.

“Si.” He grimaced. “They were not good. Is better to meet ladies in person.” He gave her a whimsical look. “Everywhere.”

Meaning he intended to keep chatting up women on MPT buses. Eduardo might be better looking and more polite than other rule breakers, but his resistant attitude was all too familiar. She’d be seeing him again, no doubt, and their second encounter wouldn’t be as cordial.

“Just be careful about what you say,” she cautioned. “Misunderstandings happen easily.”

The corners of Eduardo’s full, sensuous mouth turned down. “What shall I talk about? The boring weather? Is what others do.”

“Eduardo, buddy, unless someone speaks to you first, it might be best if you didn’t talk at all.”

Order your copy of Gold Satin Murder to learn more about the charming Eduardo.

You don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy this one!

So many times I visit a place, fall in love, and vow to return one day (which seldom happens). Imagine how happy I was when an invitation to return to the amazing Isle of Arran in Scotland was extended to me. I have just returned from this magical place where I spent six days with four inspiring writers. Here are just a few pictures of the gorgeous scenery and special sites I visited.

On the way to Fairy Glen
Heather everywhere
It was a bit of a hike up to Giants’ Graves, but I made it!
Giants’ Graves, the remains of two Neolithic chambered tombs 
View from the top
Farmhouse near Fairy Glen
One of many scenic bays
Viking burial site
Lighthouse in the distance
So many peaceful places to sit and be inspired
A friendly Highland “coo”

I also visited a castle and a museum but will save those pictures for another post. The Isle of Arran has become my happy place and I am so fortunate to have been able to return. I wrote about my visit last year here.

In case you are wondering, we did get a lot of writing done, with many lively discussions about writing and publishing. I also collected great ideas for my work in progress.

More to come.

One of the most common questions asked of a writer is, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Fellow Canadian author, Allan Hudson, runs an interesting series on his blog called, The Story Behind the Story. Recently, I was honoured to be featured on his blog where I talk about how I got ideas for my latest book, Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

The Story Behind the Story: My dream to visit the romantic city of Paris came true when we took our dog on a road trip to visit friends living on the outskirts of the city. Paris, and the surrounding area, was everything I imagined it to be and more. Our friends kindly took the time to show us around this fabulous city as well as Monet’s gardens in Giverny and the amazing Palace of Versailles. I was so excited and knew it would be a perfect setting for Amanda’s next adventure.

Hop over and read more about my inspiration, and what I like and don’t like about writing.

http://allanhudson.blogspot.com/2022/08/the-story-behind-story-with-author.html

Allan Hudson is an accomplished author from New Brunswick, Canada. I recently read his novel Father.

Blurb for Father by Allan Hudson

In 1942 everything is going good for Tanner Hill. He has a good job, two healthy sons and a wife who loves him. As he makes lots of extra cash with his moonshine, he can afford many luxuries his neighbours cannot. And he’s not worried about conscription.
However, he soon realizes good things do not last forever. One argument after church with a disgruntled man with revenge on his mind and Tanner’s world is turned upside down. Forced into making a choice, Tanner chooses to follow his brothers and enlists. He leaves for the fighting so far away as a private in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
It will be three years until Tanner returns home. It won’t be the same.

Here is my review:

A quick read that carries a punch. There are no wasted words in this tale about family and the effects of war on relationships. The characters are real and relatable. The main character, Tanner Hill, is a flawed individual, but one you can’t help but love. The author paints a picture, with carefully chosen words, that take the reader to a specific time and place. An enjoyable read, I recommend this book. – Darlene Foster

Available on all Amazon sites

It has been ten years since we published Amanda in England: The Missing Novel. So I thought we should celebrate with some cake!

I based this book on my numerous visits to England, a place I love. On one visit we stopped at Windsor Castle. The Queen was in, but we did not see her as we explored her fascinating home. Although I thought I saw a curtain twitch as we watched the changing of the guard.

I enjoyed the castle very much but one of the things that really caught my attention was Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. It was well worth the wait in line to view it. A few months later, when browsing a local bookstore in Canada, I found an amazing book all about the Dolls’ House.

I have spent hours pouring over this book and its wonderful pictures. It clearly depicts the details that were put into creating this miniature palace.

The doll’s house was built between 1921 and 1924 and presented to Queen Mary (the current Queen’s Grandmother) as a gift in 1924. It is now a piece of history. It depicts life between the two World Wars and has a very Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey feel about it. There are forty rooms and vestibules on four levels, with two staircases, two elevators that stop on every floor, hot and cold running water in all five bathrooms, toilets that flush, electric lights, a cellar, a garage and a garden. No detail was missed; from the tiny books in the library, paintings on the walls, toys in the nursery and cars in the garage. It is a delight and I’m so glad I have the book to revisit it as often as I want to.

The elaborate entrance

The opulent dining room
My favourite room – the library
I also love the nursery
Toys in the nursery
Items in the pantry
In the housekeeper’s room, a Singer sewing machine
a motorcycle in the garage
and a baby carriage in the garden
Of course, there is a throne room!

I found this delightful video which will give you a better idea.

I just had to include a visit to this place in Amanda in England: The Missing Novel

Here’s the excerpt:

Amanda squealed with delight. Before her stood a replica of Windsor Castle, in miniature, completely furnished. The entrance with the marble staircase, the dining room with the long table set for dinner with tiny dishes, the paintings hanging on the walls and the sparkling chandeliers were all there. A library with mini books on the shelves, the nursery with toys scattered about and even a puppet theatre, caught her attention.

“Look here,” Liam shouted. “There is even a garage with six fancy cars, a bicycle and a motorcycle too. They’re all in perfect scale too. Blimey, I bet they even run.”

“There is so much to look at,” said Leah. “Look at the little paint box and book of nursery songs, the teeny mirror and hair brush set. It’s so adorable.”

“This would have been so much fun to play with. Do you think the princesses were allowed to play with it?” asked Amanda.

Rylee looked at the miniature garden with three-inch trees and small shrubs. “Here’s a baby pram and look, birds in the trees and – even a cat.”

“Oh, I do hope Rupert is all right in the car,” said Leah.

Mesmerised by the scene before her, Amanda felt like she had entered the land of Lilliputians. She wanted to disappear into the miniature building or become a princess who could spend hours playing with it.

“Amanda, Amanda,” Leah tugged at her sleeve. “We should go now.”

The sun shone fiercely when they emerged from viewing the doll house. Amanda rubbed her eyes. “This is bright, isn’t it?” She rubbed her eyes again. “Is that her?”

“Is that who?” asked Liam and Leah at the same time.

“I swear I just saw that weird lady go into the castle.”

“Well, I don’t know what you saw, but I saw those two blokes who were at the hospital, sneaking behind a statue in the garden,” said Rylee.

“And there’s Rupert. Now, how did he get out of the car?” Leah ran into the garden after him.

Join me in wishing Amanda in England: The Missing Novel a very Happy Birthday!

Another great review for Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Toni Pike. Toni is a multi-genre Australian author who enjoys writing page-turning fiction for adults, hilarious books for children, and non-fiction. Please check out her blog and her books. I am so delighted that readers all over the world are enjoying my latest book.

Toni Pike

I was delighted to hear that Darlene Foster had written another exciting adventure in the Amanda Travels series – and this time it is set in Paris, one of my favourite cities. It’s available now for pre-order, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance copy for my honest review.

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I’ve created a short trailer for Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral. Let me know what you think of it.

MJ Mallon posted a review of Amanda in France on her blog which made me very happy.

My Review

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series of books set in different countries is a fun and clever way to introduce youngsters to different cultures.

Darlene Foster’s entertaining style draws the reader in and keeps their attention throughout. In this latest adventure, Amanda in France, we are treated to the wonders of Paris with mention of many famous places.

Read more of Marje’s review here

I’m so pleased with the positive reviews and feedback I have received for this, the ninth book in the Amanda Travels series.

Thank you all for the amazing support this blogging community provides. You have made this journey so much better.

I was dusting in my bedroom, where I keep my set of runes (made by my daughter) when I decided it was time to pull another one. This is what I pulled.

Inguz/Fertility

This rune is about new beginnings, possible pregnancy, good omens, satisfactory conclusions, a new idea or venture, a new path.

You must complete what you have begun. It may be a project of perhaps resolving a personal difficulty.

Very soon you will achieve inner balance, and with that, inner peace.

This was the perfect rune for me at this time. Although I had to chuckle about the possible pregnancy, I do crave new beginnings. I started another Amanda book but have not been working very hard on it, so the suggestion that I finish what I’ve begun is timely. Achieving inner balance and inner peace is a lifelong ambition.

I’m so glad I pulled this rune. Now I suppose I should finish the dusting. Sigh.

I wrote more about runes here, here and here

Enjoy this short video of runes being stained and then fired by Madmudslinger. The runes are made from wild clay dug from the ground on her west coast island home.

From the website of Madmudslinger:

Known as ‘oracle of the self’, Runes help to access the infinite wisdom existing within ourselves. The Runes help to focus and reassure what we usually already know.

A wonderful tribute to a good blogging friend we lost last year, in honour of her birthday. She is so missed but lives on in her published books. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0?

Barb Taub

Mary Smith: writer, poet, teacher, friend.

Over the pandemic and lockdown, many of us lost family and friends, a loss made even more difficult when we weren’t able to say goodbye.

Mary Smith, talking about her lockdown experience, quoted Diana Ross:

Reach out and touch

Somebody’s hand

Make this world a better place

If you can.

Those words have never felt so meaningful and so poignant. It’s what we all need right now. The touch of someone’s hand on ours would make the world seem a better place. Such a simple gesture and yet, many weeks ago, we allowed ourselves to be frightened into excising a huge part of our humanity, to keep ourselves and others safe. My heart breaks seeing young children file into their classrooms, keeping the regulation six feet apart, learning they mustn’t touch or hug each other. Learning to be fearful of their friends and their…

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I am delighted with this review of Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral over at Bonnie Reads and Writes. Included is an interview where you just might learn something new about me. We also talk about including tough topics in books for young people. Check it out!

Bonnie Reads and Writes

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Self-Published and Indie authors promote their books. Today I’m reviewing Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster. This is an indie book published by Central Avenue Publishing, an independent publisher. Darlene also agreed to do a Q&A, and her delightful answers are below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire at Notre Dame cathedral.

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book…

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