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Edinburgh – A City of Dreams

20170513_190759Since my big move to Edinburgh in December I have been busy settling into a city that has so much character and energy that I literally feel overwhelmed. But in a good way of course! Who cannot love the vibrancy of a place that is crammed with so many historical offerings? Well, none more than a historical fiction writer like myself! Each and every day there is something new to see or do. 

I have met some really great people in just four months. Last night at a dinner event, for instance, a lovely Polish lady and her Nigerian husband opened up to show such lovely personalities, and they welcomed me with open arms. There are many individuals here willing to share their stories and backgrounds and the things that are truly meaningful to their lives. They connect you in an emotional way rather than allowing the differences to separate you. If you allow these connections, differences quickly disappear from the surface.

I find it interesting to explain to people how I came here from a small ‘Rock,’ that has much to offer, but although it offered me security and familiarity,  family and friends, and plenty of love.. well, it was also very ‘limiting’ in terms of my own creative progress and development. In Edinburgh I feel that I can spread my wings far, and that I can take the time to embrace opportunities which I could only lie in bed and dream about back home.

So…good readers.. in the pipeline is a visit to The Amazon Academy in Edinburgh hosted by Amazon’s KDP UK official and a complete half day event geared towards the discussion of indie publishing success. A great opportunity to connect with other KDP members here and successful or aspiring indie authors. I’m very much looking forward to this one! More book talk and author connections coming soon too.

I am also thrilled to be back in contact with my dear friend Jonno Morris who has, I recently learned, written seven novels and is setting up his own publishing industry. Jonno moved to China some years ago where we lost contact but we are now fast catching up and steadily moving back into each other’s lives to discuss our aspirations, and re-kindle (I think there’s a pun there!) our strong friendship.

I want to end my brief post with  a personal thanks (even if he never gets to read this) to the gentleman who won the recent Goodreads.com competition last month and received a signed copy of my book. He ended up posting an online review which touched me. I’m not sure if it was because my main readership tends to be a female audience, or perhaps partly because I did not expect anything. I even braced myself for a negative review, and then I woke up to this lovely praise, which can only prove that you just never know.

And of course, we authors are human beings too and, yes, even through our thick outer ‘professional’ skin we still feel disappointment or joy at the feedback we receive from strangers. So be critical but be kind.

And i’ll leave you with this thought..

Good things happen when we aren’t looking for them!

Carla x

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The Last Letter of Mary Queen of Scots on Public Display

As a lover and author of historical fiction I was filled with excitement and privilege today to be able to visit the National Library of Scotland to cast my eyes on the original last letter written in the hand of Mary Queen of Scots. For those unaware of the history attached to this event, today marks the 430th anniversary of the Queen’s death, where she was condemned and executed by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I for treason.

Mary penned her famous letter at 2 am in the morning, just six hours before her execution. Here I show some photographs of my visit and of the memorabilia produced for this event.

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Arriving early to beat the queues.
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The Boardroom display where the letter is encased in a glass table.

Queen Mary’s letter is addressed to her brother-in-law King Henri III of France. There is much written in this letter that provokes interest.  She mentions that along with her letter she encloses “two precious stones, talismans against illness, trusting that you will enjoy good health and a long and happy life.” It is also interesting to note how she is  viewed as a martyr by some and a traitor by others.  Her letter states “The Catholic Faith and the assertion of my God-given right to the English crown are the two issues on which I am condemned, and yet I am not allowed to say that it is for the Catholic religion that I die.” 

So strong was the case against her, known as the Babington Plot,  that when Mary was tried, she was not even permitted any legal counsel or to review the evidence set against her. In front of 300 witnesses she was executed at 8 am. on Wednesday 8th February 1587.

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As well as the original letter, displayed was a letter to her mother, Mary of Guise, as well as Mary’s personal Book of Hours.

This portrait painting of Mary Queen of Scots in white mourning is dated 1561. Artist unknown. Scottish National Portrait Gallery. (Edinburgh).

MQS

Photography © Carla Acheson

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A new gift, a new novel in the works…

bookimageAlas, it’s been a while since I blogged about my own writing activities, hence I think it’s about time for a little update. And whilst I beg forgiveness from my faithful readers if I may, I’m extremely excited to announce that I have been steadily working on my third novel in the past six months.

I cannot reveal the title for the book itself as yet, but I can confirm that it is another work of historical fiction and is set both in the Victorian and Edwardian period.

How does that work I hear you say?

Well the book follows the story of the lives of two women who are connected by one tragic circumstance. The parallel narrative follows their separate journeys in both era’s which ultimately leads to the truth – one bitter secret buried in time.

And let me tell you what I noticed this time around too. My previous novels were set in the Victorian era so this time I observed quite a few changes. My new heroine, for instance, appears to naturally sound much more ‘loose’  and relaxed in her attitude. Thoughts seem to be less…‘What should I not do..?‘ to ‘What can I do..?’

This may be a subtle change but evidently a big one for repressed women of that time.

I discovered how in the Edwardian period women began to not only dress in fewer layers of clothing, (allowing them to feel a lot less restricted, I’d imagine) but to think and act a little more freely too, as they embraced the unfolding benefits of voting rights and unopposed viewpoints.

These revelations came about quite naturally in the writing process itself, and only in working through my novels could I fully appreciate the changing conditions for women as the years passed by.

I will have more news on the progression of the novel in the coming weeks, including a cover reveal and a possible book blog tour for UK readers who all follow my previous works. The publication date is currently set for late May or early June on Amazon globally, and is a stand alone novel, and not a sequel to either of my previous titles The Last Gift and The Whitechapel Virgin – the two books which I can say have really changed my life and I cannot regret a single moment of the effort I put into them.

And lastly, a huge thank you to my friends who support me, both near and far. Without all the feedback, encouragement and motivation you guys give me I would still be on chapter one!

Watch this space!

 

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“The Last Gift” hits Classic Bestseller Rank on Amazon

“Absolutely brilliant story. A real page turning book. Brought a tear to my eyes a few times. Could not put it down…” – Mrs J Smith

The Last Gift,’ is set in the Victorian era and focuses on the poorer class. The story follows the life of a young girl, who amidst the horror of poverty and disease, respectfully emerges into a more beneficial existence. Downton Abbey fans have been downloading the book greedily, shooting it high up in rank in the Classics genre.

TheLastGiftThe novel first became published online in early 2012, when publishing giant Harper Collin’s Authonomy provided extracts of the book. Within weeks it reached a high ranking position and hundreds of favourable reviews on the site.

This autumn, The Last Gift has soared up the charts to become a bestselling book on Amazon in three fiction categories based on sales alone, currently peaking in the Top 5 position on the website’s Top 100 Bestselling books in the Classics genre, beating sales of other more famous fiction authors.

In the News…

Media Release : Gibraltarian author’s novel hits bestseller rank on amazon.

The Last Gift. – Amazon UK Kindle download is available for a time at a discounted price of just 99p.

Additional Links:
UK Historical Novel Society – Review

The Last Gift on Goodreads.co.uk

Barnes & Noble – Paperback

 

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The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep – And So Do The Parents!

91BrbGINsbL._SL1500_I’m not much into covering news of book story major successes, but author Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin seems to have had his big dream come true as a self published author. His children’s book, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has just landed itself in the summit of amazon’s rankings, even nudging aside the hugely popular – The Girl on The Train, catapulting to the top of Amazon’s charts in the last few days.

The book itself is said to concentrate on helping young one’s fall asleep. The main character Roger Rabbit intends on visiting Uncle Yawn, then on his way meets sleepy snail and heavy-eyed owl. Is it me or does this sound very reminiscent of a very famous children’s book where a certain farm animal clucked his away along under a blue sky towards a castle, meeting various other poultry along the way, until finally being duped into getting eaten by a wolf?

What is quite astonishing too is the amount of positive feedback this book has successfully garnered, with over 100 readers offering a 5 star rating, compared to 60 rating it 1 star. Some even expressed the book as ‘magical’ with a large percentage of the reviews showing quite an interesting contrast:

Read this book to my Grandson and when I had finished he turned around and fell into a deep sleep! I read it to my other 2 Grandchildren on a sleepover and they fell asleep halfway through!
Brilliant

On a more pessimistic angle, another reviewer who gave the book just 1 star, wrote:

Perfect if you are trying to bore your child to death. It worked on me but had absolutely no effect on my four year old.

With that in mind, does it not indicate that it really depends on the child in question? Surely this tale can’t be more magical than Peter Pan or any other well known classic?  Perhaps it’s the simple case of the book helping the parents yawn (not a hard task given the anguish most parents face at bedtime) which thus produces a sleep-inducing effect on the child.

On the whole I would be very interested to try this story out and see whether it does indeed hold some magical qualities. I also wonder if, on the back of his success, will Erhlin produce a similar title for the millions of pill-popping insomniacs in the world?

Check out this book at the Amazon store.

The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep is Surely The Stuff of Nightmares – Imogen Russell Williams (The Guardian)