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Bells On Her Toes
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Writers at the Party > Diana, good job!

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P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments I'll be finishing soon, Diana, but I'm wondering if this is actually part of a series? There are references to backstories of the main characters that could / do stand alone, but sound like they ought to be good books themselves. I'm going to go back to read the listing of all your books and a few more the TBR shelf.

Also, do you have a horse and/or police background? Faerie, put this up on the top of your list so we can chat about it. (Please?)


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments Ah ha. I realise I should have replied here! I qualified as a lawyer, worked as one for all of about 2 years & hated it. The rest of my working life until recently has been in connection with horses. The horse world has its fair share of psychotic personalities!
Even shorter version of how I came to write. Unpleasant woman told lies to boss - he sacked me on spot - realised his mistake and offered me job back a couple of days later (no real apology or comment on girl's lies) - out of the blue, I said, "Nah, I'm going to write a book." He laughed & continued to mock me. I wrote a book. Its called Skeletons of Birkbury.
I would love to chat to anyone about writing!


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments PS - the dedication in Debts & Druids is aimed directly at the gaggle of unpleasant women who lied & generally caused me grief at my last place of employment and the boss himself.


P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments Well, that's good to know, though I'm very sorry that you had to experience it. I hope the satisfaction of writing good books compensates for what you had to go through.

I have to confess, I'd noticed depictions of unpleasantness in most of the women in the book which surprised me. I was actually trying to decide whether to include that in the review. But I really liked Fiona, who seemed to be normal, though I did want to sit her down and lecture her sternly as I do with all otherwise sensible protagonists in mysteries who feel compelled to follow leads on their own when investigating gruesome murders. (I also thought the mutual snarky dislike between her and the pregnant cop with the ponytail - I've forgotten her name - seemed a little juvenile and silly, but I suppose we all have people and situations in life that bring out the pettiness in us.)

In any case,I think you did a great job with the twists and turns and in giving us what we needed to know about training yards without getting too bogged down in it.

It was a very good read all around and I'll be adding Skeletons of Birkbury and Debts and Druids to my reading list. And I hope to get a review up of Bells On Her Toes up soon.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Mean girls are everywhere apparently. Except here, of course.

It looks like a terrific book, Diana. I'm looking forward to reading it. I saw that you posted a review, PJ. Isn't it nice to have encouraging friends?


P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments Faerie wrote: "Mean girls are everywhere apparently. Except here, of course. Isn't it nice to have encouraging friends?"

It is indeed.


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments On the whole, I've found the writing community to be extremely supportive. My theory is, we're all struggling to write our own individual stories, which are as individual as we all are.
There are good and bad people every where and most people are a mixture of good and bad.
I'm generally a very resilient person, but at the time I came under attack, my husband was undergoing cancer treatment. The whole situation made me think about what causes people to want to hurt others. It was that pondering, that lead to me to try and write a story. It was almost a type of therapy at a very difficult time.
People and the odd things they do, especially destructive actions, have always fascinated me.


P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments I can definitely identify with that, Diana. In addition to all the expected feelings I have when someone is malicious to me or to someone else, there's a part of me that sits outside the situation and is intrigued by what might be inside that person that leads them to act in a particular way.

And once I'm out of the tense situation and can think about it, I wonder what the factors are in my personality, genetics, culture, upbringing or just past experiences that shape my response.

Writing is great for that, I think, whether in diaries, letters, or stories. I think fiction is especially good because you can truly put all of it outside your own self and explore all the "if, then, else's" of human interaction.

I do hope your husband is better now.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Diana,

I'm undergoing decompression to gradually come back to the real world after spending months immersed in PJ's books. I'm open to reading Bells on Her Toes now. I remember you mentioned in the new members section that you could provide a copy to members of this group. Is that still the case?


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments Faerie wrote: "Hi Diana,

I'm undergoing decompression to gradually come back to the real world after spending months immersed in PJ's books. I'm open to reading Bells on Her Toes now. I remember you mentioned i..."

Yes of course. You will need to PM your e-mail address to me. I have a mobi or a pdf copy. Whichever you prefer. I'm working hard on a direct sequel - hope to have 1st draft completed by end of the year, so I'm very much head down at the mo.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I can wait until you get the draft done, Diana. I don't want to be a distraction.


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments Not a distraction at all. I just meant I dip in and out a bit.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Ok, great! I'll send a private message to you with my email address.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Diana, this is a terrific book so far. I had similar questions to PJ's about your background with horses and what was up with all the dysfunctional people, but see that you've already answered them. I have almost all the characters in the book under suspicion so far. So, do mystery writers go about their day thinking about all the people they come across as possible ideas for murder suspects? Or when you're out shopping or taking a walk, do you idly wonder about settings for the next murder or where to hide the body?
PJ, I've been listening to the Serial podcast http://serialpodcast.org/. So that along with The Wire, and Homicide make me wonder if anyone in your fair city does anything except kill people, investigate people who kill people, or write about people who kill people. I'm hoping that you are a member of the last group only?


message 15: by P.J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments Faerie wrote: "PJ, I've been listening to the Serial podcast http://serialpodcast.org/. So that along with The Wire, and Homicide make me wonder if anyone in your fair city does anything except kill people, investigate people who kill people, or write about people who kill people. ..."

Oh what a vicious generalization of a lovely place, steeped in history, art, and humanities. (Or rather, steeped in history, art, and humanity?) I'll have you know that we were famous/infamous for a long while with extraordinarily high rates of STDs, so obviously there was more than killing going on. So there!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh Diana, I forgot to tell you that this is my favorite line so far:

“As my dear old mother, God rest her soul, would say, fur-coats-no-knickers, that lot.”


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments Ha Ha. Yes I love that phrase. The only person I've ever heard use it was my mother & myself. It sums up a lot of people I meet in the horsey world.
I day-dream all the time. I become quite anti-social when I'm working out plot ideas. I've never thought of killing anyone (honest) although I dread to think what anyone would make of my computer records. Been looking into murder by onion soup for next book! Daffodil bulbs are very poisonous but could easily be mixed up with a few onions. Trying to find out whether it would actually kill someone or just make them very ill.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I wasn't sure whether it meant rich on the outside and poor underneath, or trying to hide inner sluttiness with outer veneers of imagined classiness. Either way, I liked it.


message 19: by P.J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments Faerie wrote: "I wasn't sure whether it meant rich on the outside and poor underneath, or trying to hide inner sluttiness with outer veneers of imagined classiness. Either way, I liked it."

I was thinking it meant the first one when I read it, though your alternative is certainly interesting.


message 20: by P.J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments Diana wrote: "...I've never thought of killing anyone (honest) although I dread to think what anyone would make of my computer records. Been looking into murder by onion soup for next book! Daffodil bulbs are very poisonous but could easily be mixed up with a few onions. Trying to find out whether it would actually kill someone or just make them very ill."

Maybe the FAQs on the local poison control site might help. But if daffodil (narcissus?) bulbs don't make you cry when cutting them up, would that be a giveaway? (Note to self: accept no dinner invitations from mystery writers coming up with poison vector ideas..)


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I really like how that chapter with Sue talking to the unidentified person was done. It's obvious that she knows who the person is and that we probably do too if he or she was identified. But we don't know if it's the killer or someone who is genuinely trying to help her not get framed for it. It's written so well that it doesn't reveal who it is, but still doesn't sound clumsy and awkward like I just did with my "he or she" just now. This is a very good mystery!


message 22: by P.J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

P.J. O'Brien | 114 comments I thought so too.


Diana Febry (dianaj) | 17 comments Thank you, Faerie and P.J. I really appreciate your comments. All will be revealed at the end!


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm almost done here. It really is an entertaining read with most all of my checklist items for a good British mystery satisfied:

- English countryside, preferably with some gentry nearby (check)
- intelligent plot twists (check)
- good clues vs reveals ratio (check)
- main characters getting snockered in the middle of the day or otherwise on the job for no apparent reason(check)
- nobly restrained emotional impulses (check)
- gardening, dogs, or horses key parts of the plot (check, check, & check)
- fun Britzy words used to insult others (check)

In fact, here's a fun little bit that the estate manager for an earl says to a police inspector with a warrant to investigate multiple homicides:
"To be honest, I find those boffins a very dry lot and I can’t imagine they do anything of any great interest or worth. Now, shall we have a drink of something before we set off or are you raring to go?”

Yes indeed, Diana. We're making room on the shelves for all of your books if they're anything like this one.


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