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Category: News

Rooms with a View

I’ve always loved windows, especially those that frame a view. When I’ve traveled, I’ve often been lucky enough to score a room with a view, and so my photo collection has a lot of photos taken through windows, using the windows as a frame.     I even wrote a blog about my love of windows on the Word Wenches once. It’s here if you’d like to read it.

But today I discovered what might well become a new addiction for me — it’s a site called Window Swap, and it’s simply a live feed from windows around the world. You click on the link and it takes you to a window somewhere in the world — Scotland, Poland, India, The USA, Slovenia, France, Hong Kong, Russia, Holland, Brazil, Turkey, Australia, and many more.

So you watch rain falling through a screen and plants in Mumbai (that’s the photo above), then a view of trees and a busy road in Canberra, hens scratching around a quiet backyard in the US, a courtyard in Brazil, a tranquil scene in Ireland, a cat washing itself in Holland, a park in Poland, sunrise in Istanbul, an apartment view in Mexico, a view over Sydney Harbour, and so on.

Some showed an outlook over city construction sites and high-rise apartments, but the variety was wonderful. And it’s live, so you see places at different times of day. You see things move, and hear the rain on the roof, the wind in the trees, the birds calling, the trafffic . . . 


I found it fascinating. The photos really challenge your perception of how people in different countries live — you get an impression of places, gleaned from TV etc, but honestly, for so many of these, if it didn’t have a label telling you where it was, you couldn’t always guess. 

As well, it was a really peaceful and pleasant way to spend five or ten minutes. I’ve bookmarked the site because I know I’m going to pop back there again. You can also see more of these, though not live on their instagram page. And all of these images are screenshots I took.

Above: Sunrise over Istanbul.

Below: boats in Sweden.

Below: Tucson, reminding me of my friend Vicki’s garden there.

Below: Beautiful bougainvillea in South America (I think Brazil, but I forgot to note down all the places.)

The website again? Window Swap.  Or for a swift impression, without movement or change, or sound, instagram.

A snippet — The Christmas Bride

Here’s a little snippet of my novella, The Christmas Bride.
Ash (Blake Ashton) is riding to Davenham Hall to meet up with his business partners.  It’s dark, it’s freezing, it’s sleeting — and he never wanted to come in the first place . . . 

Ash pressed on. It started snowing again, not the soft, gentle floating flakes of white that he remembered from childhood, but hard, sleety pellets of ice that stung his face. His mood worsened.

Rounding a bend on the edge of a thicket of trees he came across fallen branches strewn across the road, blocking his way. He swore and slowed his horse to a walk, narrowing his eyes against the darkness, looking for a pathway around the blockage.

“Stand and deliver!” The voice rang out. A short man in a long coat stepped forward. He was muffled to the eyes with his hat pulled low. “Throw down your valuables.” His voice was hoarse. His pistol showed in brief silhouette against the snowy background.

Ash was cross, cold, tired and in no mood to be robbed. He pulled out his own pistol.

The footpad’s pistol wavered in surprise, but he did not lower his gun. For a moment the two men simply stared at each other.

“I’ll wager I’m a better shot than you are,” Ash said. “Drop your gun or you die.” 

The words were barely out of his mouth when a small figure rushed out at him from the other side of the road yelling “No! No! No!”  

Something stung his cheek, Ash’s horse shied in fright, there was a loud report from the footpad’s gun, and Ash fired his own pistol in response.

Ash brought his horse back under control. The footpad was a still, dark huddle on the ground, and a small figure was bent over it. “Charley! Charley! Are you dead, Charley?”

A child? Out here in this weather? At this time of night?

“Charleeeeey!” the boy wailed. He turned to Ash, his face a pale shape in the darkness. “You’ve killed her, you’ve killed Charley.”

Her? Ash pocketed his pistol and leapt from his horse.

The boy flung himself at Ash, pummeling him in terror and fury. “Don’t you touch her! Don’t you dare! You’ve killed her, you’ve killed her!”

“Stop that, boy!” He caught the boy’s fists in his hands. “Let me look at her—you did say she was a girl, didn’t you? Your mother?” 

“My sister.”

Dear Lord, what the hell was a girl doing, playing footpad? “Let me see. You don’t know if she’s dead or not. She might have only swooned.” He released the boy.

The boy looked to be about eight or nine, skinny and distraught, and dressed in a coat too big for him. “She’s bleeding.” He held up a small bare hand and even in the gloom, Ash could see the dark stain of blood

“Let me look.” Ash thrust the boy to one side, and knelt down in the mud beside the girl’s body. He pulled the muffler aside and pressed his fingers to the side of her throat, searching for a pulse. He held his breath and concentrated. 

“She’s alive. She’s breathing.” Ash breathed again. He hadn’t meant to kill anyone, let alone a girl. But his hand came away sticky with warm blood. She might die yet.

The Christmas Bride goes on sale on November 9th.
You can buy the e-book at Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble or use this universal link to find it at your favorite e-book store.

Cover Magic

The Christmas Bride is up for preorder!

At least it’s up on amazon and pending on some other e-book sites (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play) and it should be ready on all platforms by launch day, which is the 9th November. (Fingers crossed.)

It’s been a fascinating journey, this self-publishing, and I’m learning so much along the way. For instance, when I was thinking about the cover, I knew I wanted something a bit Christmassy (which is tricky for the Regency-era, as Christmas trees etc weren’t in until the Victoria era) so I knew it would mainly be greenery and red berries. And snow.

I also wanted the image to fit in with the Chance Sisters covers, as the novella is part of the same series. I trawled through a lot of cover image sites and finally I found this image (on the left), which had the simplicity I wanted and a dress that looked like a real Regency-era dress, and I loved the lushness of the red velvet spencer.

And I know some people don’t like headless covers, but I do, because I hardly ever see a face on a cover that is anything like the hero or heroine I’ve imagined. So this way, we can each imagine our own heroine. What do you think? Are you in the headless or full-face camp?

So I bought it, and then sent it to a cover designer — who transformed it from a nice picture of a girl in a red spencer, and a green leafy background (not so likely in winter), to a lovely snowy Christmassy scene with a smatter of red berries. All we fiddled with after the first draft was the lettering of my name — making the edging a bit darker. And as you can no doubt tell, I love it to bits.

I’ll write some more about the self-publishing process and the things I’ve learned next time. And of course, I’ll tell you more about the story.  Feel free to ask me any questions.