Friday, October 28, 2016

Next writing project...

Aside from working and normal life, I am busy writing the third book in the Kitty McKenzie's series. This book concentrates on Kitty's grandchildren, and other previous character's grandchildren, who find themselves confronted by World War I.

So far I am really enjoying writing it, but as always research is slowing me down a little. Not that I mind really, I find research fascinating and interesting, especially war research. I'm always in awe when reading about what our brave soldiers went through.

So far, I have researched:
 Australian WWI uniforms
When the first bridge in Grafton, NSW was built
1914 cars
Ranks of soldiers in the Australian army.
Gallipoli and the conditions endured by the Australian soldiers who served there.

I'm only on chapter 4, so you can see there's a long way to go and a lot more research to do.

I'm guest blogging!

Today, I'm guest blogging at Karen King's blog, where I am talking about my latest book, Where Dragonflies Hover, and also talking about writing, etc.
Do drop by!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Going to be Published in Norway!!

It is with great excitement that I can now reveal I am going to be published in Norway with my split era novel, Where Dragonflies Hover.

The translation rights have been bought for Where Dragonflies Hover by Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm AS.
This is an excellent opportunity for one of my books to reach an ever wider audience by being translated into another language.
I am so thrilled with this new development and am looking forward to seeing this new partnership grow.

More information about the trade deal can be found here.

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it.

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Amazon Australia

Thursday, October 13, 2016

2 Books I've recently read.

Showcasing two books I have recently read.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.
Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

My thoughts;
I really enjoyed reading this book. Set primarily in Kenya, Africa, with little bits in England, this story is based on a true person, and is a lot like the book, Out of Africa. 
The author has done a great job in the telling of Beryl's life and has also given the reader a glimpse into 1920s colonial life in Africa. The descriptions of Africa makes you feel like you're there.
Highly recommended.

Savages by Shirley Conran.
When a group of mining executives bring their wives to an island paradise, vacation is not on their minds. But in their greedy rush to claim the prize, the men fail to take into account a general who takes control of the island and brutally executes all of them. Leaving their wives to fend for themselves in the jungle.

My thoughts:
Read this book twice, twenty years apart, and still thoroughly enjoyed it. Great characterisation. Wonderful descriptions, good drama and action and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. Brilliant.

Friday, October 07, 2016

4 countries in 3 weeks!

My lovely daughter and niece from Australia have been visiting me and my husband for the last three weeks and we have been touring quite a bit.
We managed to fit in seeing Munich, Germany, Salzburg, Austria, Sterling and Edinburgh, Scotland and many, many places in England such as Brighton, Birmingham, London, Lincoln, Dover and Canterbury and lots of other places in between.

Salzburg, Austria

White cliffs of Dover

Westminster, London

Brighton sea front

Leeds Castle, Kent

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Free Book Magazine

Lovely review for Where Dragonflies Hover in the IndTale magazine.

This magazine is free to download and read. It's got a lot of good articles and news about authors and books.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Author Library talk at Hatfield Library

Last Saturday I went to a library in Hatfield (near Doncaster, South Yorkshire) to listen to my friend and fellow author Lynda Stacey give a talk about her debut novel, House of Secrets.

Lynda and I are published by the same publisher, Choc Lit, and we live close to each other so it seemed natural to go and support her.

Generously, Lynda asked me if I wanted to be a part of the talk in a small way, which I agreed to, despite being full of cold. After her talk, Lynda introduced me as an author to the gathering at the library and I was able to share her spotlight for a few moments to talk about my books. I had brought only one copy of some of my books, but they received some lovely attention, which I was so happy to see. In fact one lady, named Sylvia, asked if she could buy a copy each of Kitty McKenzie and the sequel Kitty McKenzie's Land. She also asked me to sign them.

My thanks, of course, go to Lynda Stacey and the ladies at the Hatfield Library.

A photo of myself and Sylvia holding her copy of Kitty McKenzie.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

1st Anniversary spent in York

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 1st anniversary, and we did that in the beautiful city of York, in Yorkshire.
First, we walked around York centre to see the sights before having a beautiful meal at Middlethorpe Hall. The following the day we visited Castle Howard and Yorkshire Bird Centre.
It was a wonderful weekend with the sun shining the whole time!

Clifford's Tower, York

York Minster

One of the castle wall's gates

Having drinks on the terrace at Middlethorpe Hall

The lovely Middlethorpe Hall

The grounds at Middlethorpe Hall

Middlethorpe Hall

Fountains at Castle Howard

Castle Howard in the sun

The back of Castle Howard

The view from the back of the castle

The famous dome rebuilt after fire in 1942

The impressive hall at Castle Howard

If you are interested in visiting Yorkshire, I do recommend seeing York and all its attractions, plus the beautiful stately homes surrounding it.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

100 Year Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

I am a lover of history and I have a special interest in WWI. I'm not a scholar or an historian. I write stories. I would have liked to have had a career as a WWI historian. Instead, I feature it in my writing.
Books about WWI sit on my bookshelves, I read them for research, and every time I look at them I am in awe of what those men and women went through - the first world war.

It was a time of new awakenings. The world had never experienced anything on such a grand scale before. Wars had been fought before, but they were country against country. This time, this war, it was united armies fighting across vast areas, something not ever seen or done in history.

I can't imagine, or though I do try, how the people felt at this time. Each side believed it was in the right. I don't get into the politics of that era. I believe that unless you lived in that period with the mind set belonging to that era, then we can only surmise how they thought and why.
I prefer to concentrate on the effects of what was happening to the common people.
When I am writing about the war in my stories, I hope I can capture the feeling of what it was like to be in that world at that time.  There was fear, certainly, but also hope and belief in that they were all fighting for the right cause.

My research is based on the English and Australian people and armies. I am Australian born to English parents and I've attended many ANZAC parades and services on ANZAC day in Australia. However, my heritage is completely British and Irish. I had ancestors who fought and died in WWI. I was amazed to find, while researching my family's genealogy, that one my mother's side, there were great + uncles who fought - six brothers from West Yorkshire went to war, and surprisingly four came home as far as I can find out by the records so far. They bet the odds, but still, that family, my family, lost two, maybe three, young men.

Alfred Ellis - King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Died - 2 May 1915

Arthur Ellis - King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Died - 1 July 1916

Arthur died on the first day at the Battle of the Somme. One of the worst battled with the biggest loss of men in British military history. You can find out more about the battle here.

WWI is, without doubt, a changing point in history. A time when women were asked to take the roles only held by men. Women worked in factories, on the land, learned to drive ambulances, became battlefield nurses. They stood up and were accounted for. No longer told to stay by the kitchen sink and look after the children, they had a job to do - they kept the country going.
Strong women and brave men.
We, the future generations, should be so proud of them, our ancestors, for fighting to stay alive, both at home and on the battlefield.

As the years roll by and WWI becomes even more distant, a mere event in history, we should never forget such courageous people who suffered, who buckled down, who stuck together, who got on with the job they were asked to do. They saved us from tyranny. They saved us from invasion. They fought for their country to keep it safe and free.

We should never ever forget their sacrifices.

 We should, and always continue to, educate the younger generations that they live this wonderful carefree existence because of the people who fought, and those that died - for us.

Lest We Forget

Monday, June 06, 2016

Free very short story!

Here's a very, very short story I wrote as a treat for my publisher's newsletter.

Lauren pulled her sunglasses down over her eyes as the sun broke out between pewter grey clouds. Sipping her drink, she glanced around at the few other people sitting in the beer garden, trying to pretend it was nearly summer and warmer than it actually was. She refused to give in and go back inside the quaint 18th century pub where it was degrees warmer. It was May for heaven’s sake, they should be sitting outside enjoying sunshine.

Her gaze caught a tall man coming out into the seating area, he was alone, a pint of ale in his hand. He wore jeans, a white shirt and a brown leather jacket. He took the table opposite Lauren’s. Her heart fluttered. She looked away as he glanced across at her, but she noticed his dark eyes, the clean shaven jaw. A handsome man. A confident looking man. She was always attracted to that type.

From the beer garden’s seating area, grass sloped down to the River Avon. Trees hugged the banks and a few ducks swam in and out of the shallows, brown ducklings following in their wake. On a much warmer day the scene would be worthy of a painting. But not today. The sun disappeared again, the clouds were growing darker.

She caught the good looking guy from the other table staring at her. She pretended not to notice. She drank some more of her Pimms and lemonade and sneaked another glance at the man. He was doing something on his phone, his attention gone from her and focused on the phone. This irritated her.

She watched the ducks again, crossing her legs, her foot swinging, showing her annoyance. The sun disappeared behind a blanket of clouds. Lauren shivered, slipped off her sunglasses and popped them in her bag.

‘Not a day for sunglasses, is it?’ The cute guy said.


‘It’s not a day for sitting out in a Pub’s beer garden either.’

Wishing she’d brought a warmer jacket than a thin cropped cardigan, she gave him a cutting glare. ‘I wish summer would hurry up and get here.’

‘It’s not going to happen today.’ His smile seemed tired, as though it was too much effort.

‘Not a lot has happened today!’

The first spots of rain dropped on them, splatting the table like paint from a brush.

Lauren stood at the same time as the man did.

He waited for her, his eyes soft and kind. ‘I’m sorry.’

She didn’t answer him.

‘I’ll make it up to you.’

‘It’s ruined. You ruined our anniversary.’ She ignored the raindrops that landed faster now. ‘You promised me you would be home in time. The meal I cooked is in the bin now. You know I never cook, that’s your job!’

‘I saw the evidence of it when I got home.’

She ignored him and pushed past, storming off into the pub, where it was drier and warmer.

‘Lauren.’ He stood behind her at the bar. ‘I didn’t mean to be gone so long.’

‘Just one day. One day I wanted you to put me first and the restaurant second.’

‘I had a few things to sort out.’

She shrugged and stared down into her drink. ‘Our first anniversary is important too. You know I don’t like cooking, but I did it for you. I tried, for you. If you were going to treat this day as nothing special, then I would have too. I could have done loads of things on my own, like I normally do.’

‘Look at this.’ He held up his phone for her to see.

‘I’m not interested.’

‘Please.’ He thrust the phone in front of her face.

She glanced at the photo, not caring. ‘So?’

‘Look closely.’

Lauren peered closer at the photo of the front of a restaurant, in a cobbled street with huge window boxes of colourful flowers and a curved green awning over the entrance. ‘Why am I looking at this photo?’

He grinned. ‘Where is your favourite place in all the world?’

‘Positano,’ she said without hesitation. It was where she had worked as a waitress in the summer holidays while at university studying archaeology. Every year as soon as uni broke up for the summer, she’d fly to Italy and beg archaeologists to let her help them on digs as a volunteer. Then, at night to earn money she’d waitress in restaurants. 

‘That is a restaurant in Positano,’ her husband told her, still grinning.

She frowned. ‘And?’

‘What is your dream?’

She blinked at the change in topic. ‘My dream?’

‘The dream you’ve always had. The dream you told me when we first met five years ago.’

Sighing, she drank the last of her drink. She remembered the first time she met him at his family’s Italian restaurant, when he came out to greet some of the customers. And, because she loved everything Italian, they soon got talking. That night she told him what her dream was. ‘I wanted to be an archaeologist in Italy.’

‘But then you met me, and we got married and my career was here, and you settled for a job at the museum. And you never got to go work in Italy.’

‘What is this all about?’

‘I was late today because I was handing in my notice at the restaurant.’

‘What? Why?’

He held up the photo on his phone. ‘Because I have bought this restaurant in Positano. And while I’m running my little restaurant, and working all hours like I normally do, you will be digging in dirt in Italy, as you’ve always wanted to.’

‘We are moving to Italy?’ Happiness burst through her. Was he serious?

‘We are. My anniversary present to you, my darling wife,’ he paused to kiss her, ‘is for you to live out your dream. Happy Anniversary.’

 (c) Annemarie Brear 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Researching the First World War

For some years I have had a fascination of what is known as the First World War, or the Great War. (World War I 1914 – 1918)
This was a time of enormous change in the world. For the first time countries banded together to fight a common enemy. I’ll not go into the politics of the time or the reasons why the war happened, that is for professional historians to determine, but the effects of the war were far reaching, particularly in Europe.
In Great Britain the changes impacted on all walks of life, from the wealthy to the poor. Women were asked to step into the space left behind by the men who went to war. Not only did they have to work the men’s jobs, but they also had to keep the home running as well. Not an easy task to a female population who was expected to simply marry and have children and keep a nice house. Women of that time were sheltered from the world, innocent. All that was soon to change.

In my book, Where Dragonflies Hover, modern woman, Lexi, finds a diary written by an Australian nurse, Allie.
Allie wrote about her time as a nurse in Great War, and of falling in love with Danny, an English officer. She wrote of her struggles to help injured and dying men who came to her straight from the battlefield, covered in mud and blood.

To write Allie’s story I had to do a lot of research about World War I. I enjoy researching, and because the Edwardian Era is one of my favourite eras, it was no hardship to spend hours reading sources from that time.  
I really wanted to make Allie’s story as real as it could be. One of my research sources was reading, The Other Anzacs by Peter Rees. A truly extraordinary book detailing the true stories of Australian nurses in WWI. A lot of my inspiration came from that book. What those nurses went through was simply remarkable.

Another book I read was The Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald. Another interesting account of what the allied nurses and VADs from other countries went through. These women went from the comfort and security of their homes to the heart of battle zones.  They had to learn new skills swiftly, for even dedicated career nurses had never experienced before the types injuries and wounds they encountered only miles from the front line. Those women had to sustain difficulties they never thought of, for example at times they were food shortages, hygiene hardships, danger from bombings, homesickness and many more problems. Yet, these women, some just young girls, dutifully headed into an alien world without the promise of survival.

It is, of course, impossible for me, or anyone, to know exactly how these women felt during this challenging time, we can only read about their experiences. However, simply reading about them is enough for me to give them my heartfelt gratitude and admiration for what they endured.
I hope I did justice to their stories, to what they gave up and for the sacrifices they made to help us win the war.

Where Dragonflies Hover blurb:

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …
Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 
Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.
Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the ho
use leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.
The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.
Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.
She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.
She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.
She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.
Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.
Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily. What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.
Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.
Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.

Buy links:
Also available in Apple ibooks, etc. 
   Twitter @annemariebrear.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A visit to Harewood House

Today I went to Harewood House, near Leeds, to attend the Good Food Festival, aside from the festival it was an opportunity to visit this lovely country house.

The gardens and surrounding parklands were designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. The lake was in the above photo was one of the creations. To prevent the lake leaking they drove cattle and sheep into the basin of it to stomp down the clay before the water filled it.
To learn more about Capabilty Brown visit this link

Details inside the house always fascinate me. Below stairs this bell system allows the staff to know which room needs attendance.

The terrace over looking the park and lake.

To learn more about Harewood House you can visit their website.