Sins as Red as Scarlet – by Janet Few

C17th Historic fiction from the author of Barefoot on the Cobbles

August sees the launch of the second novel from respected historian and genealogist, Janet Few. With a slew of acclaimed non-fiction books in her back catalogue, Janet sat down to write “Barefoot on the Cobbles” a novel based very closely on real events that took place in Clovelly around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Meticulously researched and beautifully written it has sold solidly since publication. We are now looking forward to another bestseller from Janet.

Sins as Red as Scarlet

Sins as Red as Scarlet is a time-slip historical fiction set in 17th century Devon and the present day. Janet Few knows more than most about the century of the English civil war and the Mayflower sailing since she spent many years as a historical reenactor at the Torrington 1646 living history exhibition (now sadly just a cafe) and she still forms an integral part of the Swords and Spindles living history group which came from that exhibition. She also maintains an excellent blog covering aspects of historical research, genealogy, and her writing including her other books on her History Interpreter blog.

2020 and the pandemic

While most of the story takes place in the 17th century, this also interweaves with the life of a modern day student, Martha, who is studying history and meanwhile having problems of her own in 2020 Devon.
Now, as Janet was putting the finishing touches to the story, events of 2020 overtook her, leaving her with a serious dilemma. The writing had to be finished back in May, to give sufficient time to go through two stages of editing, as well as formatting the book ready for printing, followed by proof reading the printed block, and then for the print run to be completed in time to be able to send out ARCs to key reviewers.
All this for a story set partly in the middle of the worst global pandemic in living memory. For consistency reasons, it was not practical to change the modern-day setting to 2019, therefore, a decision was made to largely ignore SARS-CoV2/COVID-19, and to state that the setting is an AU (alternative universe) 2020 in which the disease does not have the impact it does. We hope this small alteration is acceptable and can only apologise that we could not realise it in the real world.

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book.

The true story of a Devon town in turmoil

It is 1682. Across the land, the Age of Reason has begun; scientific thought is ousting superstitious belief. The menacing days of the witchfinder have all but gone. Nevertheless, in Devon’s county town, three impoverished women from Byddeforde are condemned to death for the crime of witchcraft. In Byddeforde we find the rich merchants, the flourishing tobacco warehouses and the bustle of ships setting sail for the Newfoundland cod-banks. Yet, barely hidden, are layers of intolerance and antagonism that have built up over decades. Sins as Red as Scarlet is the unfolding of the lives of those whose prejudices and fears were shaped by the turmoil of plague, of war and of religious dissent.
In an alternative 2020, sixteen-year-old Martha, herself a bullies’ target, undertakes a school local history project. Probing the motivations and beliefs of Bideford’s seventeenth century residents, Martha comes to understand how past events might lead ordinary people to become the victims, the accusers, or the accused.

Cover Design by the Branch Line

Janet had a very clear idea how she wanted the cover to look and she engaged local artist Robin Paul a.k.a. The Branch Line to create it. The dark and forbidding image in black, white, and red is striking and beguilingly simple. We chose a font called “Hamlet or Not” to give a suitably C17th feel and this was pillow embossed and bordered with a black stroke and a white outer glow to make it stand out. The result is appropriately sanguine.

Small section of a larger poster of bird pictures by Robin Paul. See The Branch Line for more.

In terms of art style, this cover is a big change from most of Robin’s work which is more obviously suited to children’s books etc. Things like birds and furry animals being common features, like this puffin for example.

Preorder special offer

Now, for those who love their history, both fiction and non-fiction, you may wish to head over to Janet’s blog and pre-order direct from her because she has a brilliant offer available. Here’s what she says.

The first 500 people who pre-order Sins as Red as Scarlet (RRP £9.99), to be sent to a UK address, by 28 August 2020, will receive a copy of my social history of the seventeenth century Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs (RRP £12.95) absolutely free. These will be signed copies. They will also have the opportunity to purchase the accompanying CD for £3 (RRP £4). There will be no charge for UK postage. So if you are interested in this, you need to go to her site here and contact her directly.

Alliance of Independent Authors

I signed up (as Oliver Tooley)  for ALLi which is the Alliance of Independent Authors. It has been highly recommended to me for some time now by various people and I’ve been putting it off, but I think it will be a useful tool in the long run.

Actually, I must confess I haven’t yet really seen how useful it might be but I have high hopes. I’ll let you know in future if it works out.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning on joining yourself, I’ve posted a link below. (sponsored) You can join if you are planning to self publish, or have already self-published a  novel. You can also join if you are a professional author with 50,000 + sales a year, or if you provide author services. (I didn’t think Blue Poppy was quite ready for that side of things yet).

Alliance of Independent Authors /

 

And the Wolf Shall Dwell – Audiobook and FREE Kindle deals

Brand new audio-book available now, FREE Kindle offer coming soon.

When Joni Dee approached Blue Poppy Publishing with “And the Wolf Shall Dwell” I was worried that he was based in London. We were, and still are, a small publisher based in North Devon and it is harder to work at a distance, where you can’t pop round with a box of books.

Nevertheless, the story is a gripping read and Joni did already have a large number of pre-orders for the paperback and hardcover editions which covered the first print run nicely, so how could we refuse?

Now Joni has taken the next step on his publishing journey and produced an audio-book version of this stunning contemporary political espionage thriller.  You can get it here UK Amazon link or from Amazon in your country, universal link .

What was the bit about FREE Kindle?

Oh yes, if you haven’t already read “And the Wolf Shall Dwell” and you just want the Kindle edition, you can get it free for a very limited period only, starting on Tuesday 3oth October. Just follow the  universal link or do a  search on Amazon for “And the Wolf Shall Dwell”, by Joni Dee.

Also, if follow Joni Dee on Twitter and RT his tweet about the audio-book then you can be in with a chance to win a free code from Audible.

North Devon local bookshops

Support your local bookshop.

We’re blessed with some wonderful bookshops in North Devon and here at Blue Poppy Publishing, our long term aim is for all books to be sold by retailers, while we only deal with wholesale. For now you can buy our books right here from our website, but if you want to support your local book shop we would love that too, even though we make less money on the deal.

If you want to find independent bookshops further afield, then you should definitely check out Indie Bookshops which has an interactive Google map of (almost) every bookshop in the UK. I say ‘almost’ because I think we all know that this is a nigh on impossible task, so if you know of a shop that is not listed, or you know that a shop has closed its door forever, then please let them know so they can continue to keep it up to date.

Here’s the lowdown on your local book shops in and around North Devon.

  • Ilfracombe Bookshop” – 99 High St, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9NH – 01271 864545
    This is a wonderful book shop with shelves stacked high with stock and the owner Paul will cheerfully order books for you. As well as books, he stocks a superb range of artists materials, catering for the many amateur and professional artists in the town. There’s no website so if you’re in town pop in and say, ‘Hi’.
  • Tarka Books” – 5 Bear St, Barnstaple, Devon, EX32 7BU – 01271 267090
    An unassuming frontage on the one way section of Bear Street in the centre of town opens into a large space crammed with books, although they have more second-hand books they do stock some new, particularly children’s books. Website.
  • Sol Books” – 2 Bridge Chambers, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1HB – 01271 327319
    Although this shop is almost entirely second-hand and antiquarian books, they do specifically stock books by local authors, including Blue Poppy publications.
  • Waterstones” – 42 High St, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1BZ – 01271 374433
    The national chain is a vital part of the overall book retail market.  Think of it as a game of ‘rock-paper-scissors’ but instead it’s ‘Amazon-Waterstones-Indies’ The Barnstaple branch is large and open with a great range and, like all bookshops, they can order any book in print. Website
  • Walter Henry Books” – 12 High St, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2AA – 01237 425727
    A beautiful spacious and well stocked bookshop in the centre of Bideford. hey don’t have a website, but there is a Facebook and Twitter account if you want to get in touch.

Beyond North Devon

Oakhampton – recently opened

“Dogberry & Finch” – 15 St James St, Okehampton, EX20 1DJ

Newly opened in August 2019 Kate McClosky and her partner Linus look forward to bringing a carefully curated selection of books to their hometown and becoming an important part of the Oakhampton shopping experience. Their plans include hosting special events as well as featuring local artists in the shop. For more information, check out their website.

Tiverton

Liznojan Books” – 25 Gold Street, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6QB
Liznojan is one of the newer bookshops in Devon, opened in 2017 by mum and daughter team Jackie and Kayleigh. It’s not just a bookshop, it is a community hub with local art and craft, and independent magazines, as well as an organic cafe. It really is a gem of a shop and well worth a visit if you are in town. Website

Crediton

Crediton Community Bookshop” – 21 High Street, Crediton, Devon, EX17 3AH

Another lovely independent bookshop serving Crediton and the surrounding areas. Spacious and well stocked, offering a range of events throughout the year and working with local schools on things like author visits and book related events to promote reading. Website

Axminster

Archway Bookshop” – Church Street, Town Centre, Axminster, EX13 5AQ

You enter through the Gothic arch of this ancient stone building and find yourself in a large shop spread over two floors with a magnificent spiral staircase. As well as a huge range of stock there is, as you might expect, personal recommendations, and an ordering service which even includes local delivery. As usual, the shop is a community hub with things like a book club and they are a sales outlet for local ticketed events. The website is sparse but is a starting point.

Sidmouth

Paragon Books” – 38 High Street, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 8EJ

Paragon books (not be be confused with Parragon books the publisher) has graced Sidmouth’s shopping scene for over twenty years. With a range of over 5,000 titles, as well as CDs and DVDs, you should find what you want, and if you can’t they can order for you. They also have greetings cards and paintings from local artists. They host author events and sell tickets for other local venues. Find out more on their website.

Topsham

Topsham Bookshop” -27 Fore Street, Topsham, Exeter, Devon, EX3 0HD

A large bookshop set over three floors, although mostly out of print and previously loved books, they do have some new books of local interest. Website.

Newton Abbot

Waterstones” -7-9 Courtenay Street, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 2QH

Set in the centre of historic Newton Abbot; like all Waterstones you’re sure of a professional service and a great range of books with an ordering service, and occasional author events. Website.

Torquay

Waterstones – 15 Union Street, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1

Website.

Exeter

Waterstones (High Street)” – 48-49 High Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3DJ

Another large bookshop over four floors. Book Group meets on the first Thursday of every month (excluding November and December) and there are regular author events.  Website.

Waterstones (Roman Gate)” – 252 High Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3PZ
Spread out over three floors with the children’s section on the ground floor, a cafe on the 1st floor and a quiet section on the 2nd floor (sensibly far away from the children. Website.
Dartmouth

Dartmouth Bookseller, 3 Foss St, Dartmouth, TQ6 7DW
Describes itself as “a busy little bookshop in the beautiful coastal town Dartmouth, Devon. We’re part of a family-run company, Mabecron Books Ltd. Friendly booksellers happy to recommend interesting reads for all ages and occasions.” Website

Kingsbridge

Harbour Bookshop, Mill Street Kingsbridge Devon TQ7 1ED
A friendly and well-stocked independent local bookshop in South Hams. Website

Tavistock

Bookstop 3 Market Street, Tavistock, PL19 0DA
Bookstop is a general book shop stocking all categories of books and audiobooks on two floors along with a wide range of music on vinyl and CD in a dedicated Music Room. website

TBC

BBC Radio Devon interview with David Fitzgerald – “Fitz”

Dateline: Friday 5th October
Time: 12:09 – 12:19 approx

Well yesterday was an experience and tremendously interesting, and fun.

David Fitzgerald is a lovely bloke who managed to sound interested in my maundering nonsense. I just hope I didn’t send all his listeners to sleep.

I got in touch with the show with considerable trepidation, fearing that I would either be ignored, or worse, rejected as not sufficiently interesting. (n.b. this is why I self-published in the first place, because I dread rejection far too much)

Contrary to my worst fears, Elsa got back to me almost immediately and, to my huge surprise, offered me an interview the very next day! 

So there’s me driving down to Plymouth (I had thought the BBC Radio Devon studios were in Exeter) on Friday morning, and waiting in reception, then being brought through by the delightful Elsa and introduced to Fitz.

I knew I wouldn’t have long, and I tried to splurge as much information as I could in an incoherent stream. Fitz managed things with utter professionalism and natural charm, bringing out some of the important points I had glossed over, and making sure I could plug the website.

You can listen again using the BBCs own iPlayer app, This requires an account and you have to be signed in. My interview is at approx 2:09 into the three hour programme.

If you live abroad, or if you can’t bring yourself to sign up for an account, then I have made a  recording of the specific bit for you to listen to.

I left thinking of a hundred things I wanted to say but didn’t but listening back over the interview I got about ten minutes and covered almost everything I could have hoped for. Thank you Fitz, and BBC Radio Devon.

Until next time.

Launch Day MMMM

Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem,
– and a Sprig of Mistletoe. –

I am writing this at 10:00am on Saturday 29th of September and the brand new book is here and available to buy but ONLY in bookshops or from our shop.

If you are coming to Barnstaple Library today from 2:00 – 4:00 pm there will be fun and activities, a chance to meet some of the authors and get them to sign your book. We will get a few extras signed too for those who can’t get there.

We would LOVE you to buy the book from your bookshop!

“Why?” We hear you ask, “Surely you get more profit if I buy directly?”

Well yes we do, but Blue Poppy Publishing is a publishing company and in the long run we hope that everyone will buy our books in bookshops and we won’t have a retail operation at all.

If people order our books from local bookshops there are two major benefits.

  1. Bookshops make money which helps the local economy.
  2. Bookshops find out we exist and that there is demand for our books.

This book is not available on Amazon!

“Whaaaat?”

You heard! There are technical reasons why, but we decided not to even try to overcome them at least for now.

This book is ONLY available from us or from UK bookshops.

ALL UK BOOKSHOPS.

If you want to buy a copy in Birmingham, or Manchester, or Nottingham, or Sheffield, or Aberdeen, or Belfast, or London, just go in and say, “Hello, can you order me a copy of ‘Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem – and a Sprig of Mistletoe’. It’s from Blue Poppy Publishing.” They will look puzzled and then type it into their computer, whereupon you will see their little face light up as they find it. Just in case that doesn’t work for any reason give them the ISBN 978-1-911438-53-3 (you don’t need the hyphens but it’s easier to read that way.

They will then order it and take your details to let you know when it arrives.

You pay £6 they make a small but certain profit and everyone is happy.

 

 

Old photographs Poles Montaland genealogy france

Other People’s Ancestors

When researching your family tree, you can’t help but turn up interesting stuff about friends of the family who are no relation to yourself. I have been writing about my great grandmother, Fanny Chalk Austin, whose memoirs I have edited and expanded and published on Kindle. UK Link  –  Global link 

I have since been digging out old family photographs and hit a rich vein in a big old scrapbook that my father had. In it, there are photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to lots of my own family, but also some which bear no relation to my tree. (as far as I can tell)

Photographs of a wonderful looking woman who, judging by the pictures, had a vibrant sense of humour and a ‘jolly-hockey-sticks’ approach to life. Her name was Dora Boobyer, and I haven’t the faintest idea how she connects to my family. But it was a pleasure to be able to send the images to a genealogist who has researched her in their tree.

I also have several photographs of a French family who obviously had a major impact on mine but it is not clear why. My great-grandmother honeymooned in Paris, as did my grandmother, at Hôtel Britannique, and it looks likely that at least one family member had strong connections with Britain, but I still haven’t pieced together the puzzle and it isn’t even MY puzzle.

Granny Poles had three children, Louise, Richard, and Harry.

Louise married a M. Montaland apparently in England AND France? 

I’ll continue this story later and add the photos. (ha, I finaly got around to this) I have to go to a bookshop now to promote my physical books a bit.

Unfinished NaNoWriMo Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of my unfinished NaNoWriMo story
If you fancy reading Chapter 1 first, it is here.

2 Heaven

He had died. He laid back on the clouds, with St. Peter standing over him, clipboard in hand, accompanied by angels in white or blue robes. The light was bright, it was warm, not the freezing cold of Earth in winter. He blinked. The light of the Lord was too much, and he would be found unworthy. He tried to shield his eyes, but there was a wire in his hand, and it hurt to move.

St Peter took out a pen, and made a note on the clipboard, as he said, “Don’t try to move just yet, Mr …?”

John didn’t answer. He was confused. Why would St Peter not know his name?

“Where am I?”

“St Luke’s hospital. You passed out in the subway station. We couldn’t find any identifying documents, so we don’t really know much about you. Rather difficult to treat you without medical records.”

John’s head slumped back on the soft pillow. Not a cloud, but a bed. It wasn’t St. Peter, but St Luke. No, not St. Luke, but a doctor. He wasn’t dead. He felt … what did he feel? Everything and nothing. If he had been dead, and this were heaven, it was pretty much alright. Clean sheets, warm enough, and presumably, there would be regular meals. But would he have made the cut. He tried to weigh up his own life without bias. He half laughed at himself for the audacity of such a thing. How could he possibly remain unbiased while deciding if he should be allowed into heaven? He couldn’t even be certain of writing an honest review about his latest song.

St Peter was speaking to one of the other angels, “See if you can find out some details about him. If we can’t I suppose we’ll just have to do the best we can, and then discharge him as soon as he’s fit enough to go home. Assuming he has a home.”

‘Home! Star!’ John remembered he needed to feed the cat. He sensed he was thinking more lucidly again. He could see he was in a hospital, but he felt fine. No broken bones, no cuts or burns, no infection or neoplasm, his heart was beating normally now, and he had no breathing difficulties. He was in fine physical shape. He didn’t need their help. Star, on the other hand couldn’t feed himself. Star was the cat, his name short for Astaroth. Ok, naming your cat after a demon might be a black mark on St Peter’s clipboard, he had to admit. But taking good care of the cat, when he often forgot to look after himself, that was a big plus mark, right? That must be like, fifty heaven points right there. Anyway, it was just a name, and Star could be a right little devil sometimes.

“Nurse.” The word came out as a feeble, almost inaudible, croak; as though a very sleepy frog was trying to get someone to lift a heavy log off their back.

‘Nope, that’s not how my voice is supposed to sound.’ He thought.

He coughed, experimentally, and did the shortest vocal exercise in the history of music. “NURSE!”

‘Oops, bit loud.’

He hid under the bedsheet as a nurse bustled over, looking aggrieved.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to shout. Errm, when can I go home?”

“The doctor will need to see you before you can be discharged.”

“I really need to feed the cat.”

She consulted the little fob watch on her pocket absently as she said, “Doctor will be doing his rounds later this afternoon.”

“This afternoon? What time is it?”

The nurse looked again at her watch and said, “Eleven thirty-two.”

John enjoyed, fleetingly, the fact that she had literally just looked at her watch, and then had to look at it again the moment he asked the time. Then he recalled that it had been early evening when he had been chased by the barbarian horsemen; sorry, correction, biker gang. So he had been in hospital overnight? Which meant that the need to get back and feed Star was even greater now.

The nurse bustled away. He looked at the line in his wrist. It wasn’t actually connected to anything. Just there in case they needed it. He gently peeled the retaining tape away and slid the thin metal needle out of the vein. It hurt. John wasn’t brave or tough. He was a musician not a fighter. But this was too important. He replaced the tape with the little wad of lint, and held it in place as it felt like the stickiness was worn away. His jeans and tee shirt were in a bag in the bedside table. His coat, which wasn’t warm enough hung on the chair.


Same rule applies. If you want to read more you just have to ask, and I will post up chapter 3.

I don’t want to bore people.

Chris Mouse time is nearly here

Special Agent Felix Whiter returns in a brand new adventure.

Ok, now I know there will be more people saying “Who?” than “Yay!” about this, but that is going to change over time until everyone knows all about Felix Whiter. If you have already read “For Cats’ Eyes Only” you can scroll down, or click here.

Who is Felix Whiter?

Created to coincide with the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge, with the theme “Animal Agents” Felix is a special agent at A.I.S. (Animal Intelligence Services) based in Beech House. He’s a cool cat who always gets his man, although Swifty the Tortoise often gives him the slip.

His boss is a white mouse called M, and her assistant is a white stag called Jonathan Hart. There is also an owl called Olli who is a few feathers short of a nest.

The series is illustrated by Amii James, an art student currently at Petroc college and going on from there to university to study illustration with a view to becoming a children’s book illustrator.

Chris Mouse

The sequel “Dr. Gnaw” is set in winter, and the animals have a tradition that dates back to one very cold winter, when the animals were all cold and hungry. One brave mouse called Chris set off to find food, accompanied by Old Father Squirrel. They were gone for 7 days and nights, but on their return they brought sacks of cheese, and nuts.

Every winter, the animals remember, by exchanging gifts, and eating good food, and they all wish each other a Happy Chris-Mouse and dress up as old father squirrel in his acorn hat; although Felix isn’t really all that keen on it.

Felix has a new partner; a spaniel called Holly, and he has to get over his dislike of dogs. He and Holly get invited to a posh party at the Akita-Shibu Bank. Felix goes under an assumed name; John McClaw, but soon he is fighting for his life, and Holly’s too when a gang of villains, led by Hans the Rat, take everyone hostage, and try to rob the bank.

If the plot sounds familiar, you should see some of the jokes! Blue Poppy Publishing would like any film companies, or 1970s comedy double acts to send writs, in the first instance, to our contact email. We don’t have any money, but the publicity of a court case could well change that.

Funding a new book by a new author

Teeny Tiny Witch, by Sheila Golding.

Teeny Tiny Witch is, as her name suggests, is quite small. She also prefers the colour red, to black, and in addition, her spells often go catastrophically wrong.

As a result she is banished from Witch Island, and has to leave her mother, and all her friends.

Cold and alone, she befriends a dragon, named Quanga, and his mother, who works for a grumpy old wizard.

While Teeny Tiny Witch may be able to help the wizard to cheer up, but what she really wants is to go back home; and that requires not only all her courage, and strength; but she must to defy the odds, and get a spell right for a change.

Gloriously illustrated by North Devon graphic artist Colin Rowe (Corvus Design) this is a story that will charm younger readers, or make a perfect bedtime story for ages 4-7.

We are crowdfunding to cover the cost of printing and need to raise at least £1,000 Here’s the link to the Kickstarter project. It finishes on the 8th of October, and every pledge and share will help.