Showing posts from November, 2013

Scottish connection

It's St Andrew's Day today. I took this shot over the ancient rooftops of old Kenilworth the other week. It seemed appropriate.

It's similarly dazzling today. In fact, I may just take a turn around the castle - and pick up a haggis on the way back.

If I can catch one. It's a little known fact that they roam free on Kenilworth Common and they're quick as the devil as they shoot through the bracken.

Eye of the Skython

A few years ago, Rob was invited to officiate a PhD viva in Tromso, Norway. Intrigued, I wangled my way along. I'd never been that far north before - and it was boggling.

I particularly loved the old museum on the harbour, with photos and artefacts relating to the mad explorers who sailed from Tromso to Spitsbergen. I have a sneaking feeling that Philip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials trilogy, visited the same place. Polar bears, northern lights, hot air balloons ... sound familiar?

Anyway, not to be outdone, I came up with my own adventure - Ice Trekker. Monsters, myths and mayhem. 

The first strange creature the young hero Mitch encounters is a skython.

What a good name for a cocktail! To celebrate the launch, I came up with this: The Eye of the Skython, in all its purple glory.

Teaspoon of crème de mûres (or cassis)
Teaspoon of blue curação
Sliver of black grape (for effect!)
Mix the two liqueurs until you have a concentrated purple. Top up with Prosecco and …

Voting for Half Life - not long to go ...

Voting closes today for the Yougottaread November video contest.

I'd love a vote for Half Life. It's a film noir-inspired 1930s romantic thriller, co-written with my husband Rob Deeth. Nefarious Nazis, northern lights, nuclear fission ... and cyclotrons!

Making fantasy real - author Rosemary Gemmell

Continuing the series about writing for younger readers to mark the launch of The Cloud Pearl, this week we hear from talented writer Ros Gemmell, author of The Jigsaw Puzzle.

The epublishing business is wonderfully global, however it was delightful to connect with a fellow-Scot. Rosemary and I have exchanged many an email over the past few months, so it's pleasure to have her as my guest today, to talk about interweaving fantasy with real-life issues.

Seeking votes for Half Life

Half Life has reached the shortlist for the Yougottaread November video contest.

It's a film noir-inspired 1930s romantic thriller, co-written with my husband Rob Deeth. Nefarious Nazis, northern lights, nuclear fission ... and cyclotrons!

To vote, go here. Voting is from 21-27 November.

Scroll down to number #12 and click to vote if you like it.

You can also see the video here:

Dark Interlude

Dark Interlude is a sepia-inspired cocktail I devised for the book, a historical adventure set in Scotland in the winter of 1918/1919. As it’s coming up to St Andrew’s Day, it seems appropriate.

It was a fascinating period, as the nation struggled to come to terms with the aftermath of war. Thousands of demobbed soldiers poured back, but there were few jobs to go round. Rationing was still in force and times were hard. In Glasgow, the dockworkers decided to vote for a shorter week so every man could have a job. The government didn't like this at all, fearing a Bolshevik uprising.

They nearly got one. They called it 'the revolution that never was'. There's more background on the companion website. You'll find the book on Amazon and Smashwords.

So, here we are: Dark Interlude, the cocktail. I did a video at the time. Just a bit of fun. Here's the link.

Ingredients: Half a measure of Scotch Teaspoon of cassis One measure of sweet red vermouth Dash Angostura bitters Dash c…

Berlini: a new Aperol ‘martini'

Of course, the definition of a martini is a cocktail featuring gin and dry vermouth.

If you’ll forgive the expression, I’m going to twist the rules for a new creation, a Berlin-inspired martini, with Aperol. Rob (my husband and co-author) and I took a trip there for research, partly computational chemistry, partly for the sequel of Half Life. Our characters are sent on a tricky mission to the heart of the Nazi power base. So, off we went - and I made myself busy making mixology notes, too.

The darling of Italy, Aperol is now more widely available. It’s all over Berlin bars, too, its tangerine-coloured contents lighting up many a dark shelf. We tried it first in Venice, so it will be forever associated with luxury.

Ingredients: One part Aperol One part gin One part sweet white vermouth Dash of grapefruit Juice of half a lemon.
Orange for garnish. 
Shake over ice and add a twist of orange peel. The orange is a natural partner for the slightly bitter tang of Aperol.
I’m ambitious when it comes t…

Picture power - thoughts from cover artist and writer Marion Sipe

Continuing the series about writing for younger readers, here's an interview with design artist Marion Sipe, who created the wonderful cover for The Cloud Pearl.

Welcome, Marion! Let's get straight down to business.  Apart from reading the cover artists forms, how do you set about designing a book cover? Do you ever revert to pen and paper, or is it all high-tech design?

Half Life: #2 Junkers 52

Half Life: cocktail #2 Junkers 52
This is a rather special little number which we’ve dubbed the Junkers 52.

We got to know ‘Iron Annie’ rather well because it was used as the basis for the most iconic seaplanes of the period.

Ingredients: Two measures of vodka One measure of cloudberry liqueur Half measure of triple sec Juice of a lime.
To make: Shake over ice and serve.
There is a passing mention of cloudberries in the book, so they were a key ingredient. In fact, they're quite fascinating.
Cloudberries, like cranberries, are rather good for you, thanks to their high vitamin C content. Nordic seafarers and the Inuit regard them as protection against scurvy. The benzoic acid content acts as a natural preservative.
It was also a popular herbal medicine in ancient Scandinavian lore. The tea from cloudberry leaves was used in to cure abdominal infections.
The cloudberry is also tough, being able withstand temperatures of below -40°C.
If I can find the berries for sale anywhere, I’m going to try …

Seeking votes for Half Life

Just back from Berlin doing research for the sequel of Half Life, our 1930s mystery adventure and guess what? I see the Half Life trailer’s in this month’s You Gotta Read Reviews Video Contest.

It’s entry #12 and you can see it here.

If you like a bit of ‘film noir’, do vote from November 21 and November 26.

When it comes to the day, to vote, visit the site, find the red, white and blue voting button between those dates and click on the appropriate number.


Half Life: #1 Arctic Breeze

Half Life: cocktail #1 Arctic Breeze

Cocktail time. The bluest and the best. This is the Arctic Breeze, devised to celebrate Half Life, a film noir mystery thriller I co-wrote with my husband Rob (pictured below), inspired by a trip to Norway. Off we go.

One measure of vodka
One measure of dry martini
Half measure of triple sec
Juice of half a lemon
Half a teaspoon of blue curaçao.
Add to shaker. Add handful of ice. Shake and pour. It should come out a lovely, pale, polar blue. (If I were to use more blue curacao, it would make my tongue blue, which is a bit peculiar.) If you're being fancy, frost a glass. Here's how. Dab of lemon juice round the rim. Dip into caster sugar in a saucer and store in fridge. Cool.

By Pamela Kelt

Tomorrow’s Anecdote

This was my first literary concoction, to celebrate my first release, retro mystery Tomorrow's Anecdote on Crooked Cat.

When the paperback arrived from Amazon, I felt the need to celebrate.
The book is semi-autobiographical, based on my heady days in the newsroom during the turbulent Thatcher years. Gin and lime helped - as it does the heroine in the book.
If I were feeling fancy, I’d suggest that Tomorrow’s Anecdote itself is a quirky blend of literary elements.
Part mystery, part thriller, part family saga, part romance.
So, I decided to come up with a Tomorrow’s Anecdote cocktail based on the protagonist’s penchant for a cheeky little gin and lime. So, in an online exclusive, here’s the totally original recipe that we came up with, amid much merriment.
Ingredients: Half measure each of: gin, dry white vermouth, sweet red vermouth, lime cordial, apricot brandy.
To make: Use equal parts of all liquors. Shake over lots and lots of ice (three or four per person). Strain and serve.

If you ho…

The Cloud Pearl Blush - a variation

What a difference bitters can make.

I've always loved Angostura bitters, but recently I've been branching out. Have you tried cranberry bitters? They make a super Christmas present suggestion - especially if your partner is stuck for ideas for what to buy you.

Try this variation of The Cloud Pearl. It's surprisingly different in taste, with just a minor adjustment.

The Cloud Pearl Blush

Ingredients: One measure of gin One measure of sweet vermouth (bianco) One measure of dry vermouth Dash of cranberry bitters Ice (tonic water ice cubes and regular).
Preparation: Make some tonic water ice cubes by pouring tonic water into the ice cube tray.  To make: Place liquor into a shaker and shake lightly with two or three ice cubes per person. Place tonic water ice cube into a classic wide cocktail glass.
The cranberry bitters create this subtle pink shade and add a lovely fruity hint.

The Cloud Pearl

I love a cocktail with a gimmick.
Here’s the recipe for The Cloud Pearl cocktail. It has a UV twist!

Ingredients: One measure of gin
One measure of sweet vermouth (bianco)
One measure of dry vermouth
Dash of Angostura bitters
Ice. Preparation:
Make some tonic water ice cubes by pouring tonic water into an ice cube tray. You’ll also need to locate a source of UV light. I bought a cheap mini-torch on ebay. It also has an infra-red light, which I feel might feature in a future post. Blacklight bulbs are also easy to find - you might have one left over from Halloween ...

To make: Place liquor into a shaker and shake lightly with two or three ice cubes per person. Drop a single tonic water ice cube into a classic wide cocktail glass. Dim the lights and switch on UV light as you pour the cocktail over the tonic water cube.

The quinine in the tonic water glows lilac. It fizzles as it floats and looks amazing. The idea was to represent the 'cloud pearls' concept from the book, which are froze…

Boost your book - tips from Beth Overmyer

A warm welcome to fellow MuseItYoung author Beth Overmyer.

This is the third article in a series on books for the teen/tween market, to mark the launch of The Cloud Pearl (Book One: Legends of Liria). Today, the author of In a Pickle shares her tips for boosting your book.
Writing a Teacher’s Guide
Congratulations! You’ve written a book and now you want to make a teacher’s guide to accompany it.

E-books and e-readers – are we expecting too much?

This is the second article in a series on books for the teen/tween market, to mark the launch of The Cloud Pearl (Book One: Legends of Liria).
I’m in the classic demographic to possess an e-reader. Female, mother, and of a certain age. I woke up to the revolution two years, submitted several manuscripts and I have now have six books deals. They are all initially e-books.
I assumed everyone was familiar with e-readers, even if they didn’t own one. Well, I think I’m horribly wrong.
I was at the hairdresser’s, a classic place to catch up on my reading. I left my e-reader on the table and a crowd formed. Not one of the women there had ever seen one before – and it was a wide age range, from late teens to post-retirement. When I showed them the cover of one of my books on the screen, there was a general ooh and aah. Far from being flattered, I was horrified.



It's fun to make wine. Bread. Yogurt. Pasta. But cocktails are my latest thing. 

At cocktail hour (whenever that happens to be), we often chat over the day as I rustle up a little something.
If you’re wondering about the title, whenever my father went on a golfing holiday to France, when asked what time it was, he always said: ‘Half-past Kronenburg.’ It was that kind of gents’ vacation. This is my small homage to the expression.

How old are you? Writing for younger readers ...

Hi Pam!Hello Pam's followers! waves coffee mug enthusiastically.
How old are you?
Thanks so much for inviting me to contribute to this discussion because although I don't consider myself a YA writer, as in so many things, it comes down to reader's choice.
For example? I still read and treasure some books that came to me in childhood – Alison Uttley, Beatrix Potter, the Narnia Series, Henry Treece's Viking trilogy, apart from all the classics. I have used the Wind in the Willows in magical ritual (yes, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, of course) andtaught English to adult students with early-readerbooks where the pictures tell the story and the words are there for vocabulary-gathering.

The Cloud Pearl - launch day

Today is the launch of The Cloud Pearl, book one of Legends of Liria.

The book's now on and Smashwords, among others. Hop over for some questing banter and epic pictures of swords and monsters. There's a giveaway, too.