Tuesday Talk is back and catching up with author Anna Mansell as she discusses dinner guests and what’s next on her writing agenda…

IMG_0979Good morning Anna and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Morning! Thanks for having me. So, what can I tell you? I’m a northerner living in Cornwall. My life is largely dictated by our rescue Greyhound, Olive Dog. And when she’s not demanding attention, it’s one of the kids. Apparently I have a husband too, the poor bloke rarely gets a look in. We live in a little house on a dairy and thank our lucky stars every single day!

How did your writing journey begin?

Well, it began with a story called the Owl at Home when I was about 6 and ¾’s. A book I still have. But in truth, whilst the Owl was a pretty strong character there was little story arc and the illustrations were not exactly Oliver Jeffers. So from then on, I didn’t write much. Or so I thought, it wasn’t until I moved to Cornwall that I realised I was shoehorning the opportunity to write in to my day job. Reports, strategies, editorial, copy… it was all an excuse to write! When we moved here, back in 2009, I started thinking about characters, stories, little ideas that I wanted to explore. I started many things, finished none of them, until I decided to do what, at the time, Mhairi McFarlane expressly advised aspiring authors NOT to do… I left my job to become a writer. That first morning, I dropped the kids off, I made a cup of tea, and I sat in my chair and I wrote. That first novel will obvs never see the light of day, but the second one – after some HEAVY rewriting and editing, will be my second novel out at the end of July. It took me four years of day in day out graft to get a deal. There was a lot of rejection. There were a few tears. And there was a lot of happy dancing in the frozen aisle at my local Asda when I finally got a contract offer!

Have you ever been tempted to change direction with your writing, say to YA or perhaps children’s books?

As it goes, I started out with children’s books. Several characters including Flame Red Ben, who might make an appearance one day, and a monster in the cupboard who made inexplicable sounds in the night…. Loosely based on my mother and my children and their fear of her health induced snoring. (Sorry Mum!) I soon realised that children’s books were not as easy as their word count would have you believe! I think for now, I’m settled into the books that I write, I’ve loads more stories yet. But who knows, in the future, I’d love to write a radio play one day…

Where do you get your inspiration for your characters from?

They just arrive, somehow. Often from a real-life situation that inspires a train of thought. My books tend to explore themes: grief, survival, self-acceptance, forgiveness, that sort of thing, so there is inspiration all around me. Only once has a character come totally out of the blue, fully formed. In my latest work in progress, there’s a man called James. He has appeared in every one of my novels for the last five years and it’s taken four books before I found his home!

Beach or city? Which location attracts you the most and have you any favourite destination?

If I have to choose from these two, it would be beach, but beach in the winter, when it’s empty! We have some of the most beautiful beaches all around us, and in the winter, we can walk with Olive Dog and stare out to sea. I like the feeling of peace and introspection you get from standing on the shoreline. Cities terrify me. Too many people. Too much noise. Too much… everything. I like little seaside towns, I like fields, I like to avoid the hustle and bustle.

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, can you tell us something about it?
I am! There is a very rough first draft that has lots of things like ‘write more here’ and ‘expand this bit’ in it, so I really need to get my head down and finish it but I confess, I’ve struggled to manage my time of late. By September, I shall focus on getting it finished. It’s a story about love. About the challenges of marriage. The truths behind what makes a successful marriage. It features two couples, one in their early nineties, and another in their late thirties. And James. James is in this one! 😉

And lastly, you are holding a dinner party and are planning to invite four famous guests (either living or dead). Who would you choose and why?

Thora Hird, because I adored her and I love Alan Bennett so she could talk to me about her work with him. Victoria Wood because… god, let me count the ways! She was magical and generous and just down right glorious… what a writer! The Dalai Llama for his wicked sense of humour and all round peace and love, and finally, Grayson Perry because I’m inspired by how his mind works, how he explores and unpicks society through his work, his writing, and lately, the TV he’s done. I think that’s a group that could inspire much fascinating conversation!

 

 

The Lost Wife cover

When Ellie Moran passes away, she leaves her newborn son and husband Ed behind her. Their marriage was perfect, their lives everything they had hoped for. So why was Ellie keeping secrets from Ed?

Knowing he can never ask his wife the truth, Ed is struggling to cope. When the secrets threaten to tear his whole family apart, Ed turns to Rachel, the one person who sees him as more than just Ellie’s widower.

But then Rachel discovers something Ellie was hiding, something that would break Ed’s heart. Can Rachel help Ed to find peace without the wife he lost – and a second chance at happiness?

Fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Amanda Prowse and Kelly Rimmer will love The Lost Wife, the compelling story of a woman’s deepest secrets, and the friends and family who must learn to live without her.

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON.COM: http://a.co/dXe5cO2                                   AMAZON.CO.UK: http://amzn.eu/104tp4v

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Read what everyone is saying about The Lost Wife:

‘A story written beautifully… Words are chosen with love and the story just flows seamlessly.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘This book just blew me away… An incredibly emotional read… Highly recommended.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A lovely story of loss, love and trust… Oh goodness, it was heart-wrenching. This book made me laugh and a little tearful… Well-rounded and developed characters.’ Goodreads reviewer, 4 stars

‘An incredible, beautiful story of loss, love, forgiveness, moving on, overcoming grief, redemption and above all, hope.’ Renita D’Silva

Also by Anna…

How to Mend a Broken Heart

A compelling, heartbreaking tale that will make you laugh, cry and believe in the kindness of strangers. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Dillon and Miranda Dickinson.

When Rhys is called to the hospital to meet Susan, a woman he barely knows, he is compelled to help her. Still grieving the loss of his brother months earlier, Rhys knows all too well the feeling of loneliness.

There are years between them, but Rhys is the only person Susan will respond to, and when she asks him to bring her her most treasured possession, a book of fairytales, he is intrigued.

Hidden in the book is a clue to Susan’s past, and the painful regrets she carries with her. And as Rhys starts to unearth Susan’s secrets, he finds that his own grief begins to heal too…

Together, Susan and Rhys must learn to live again. Can they help each other to find happiness and finally mend their broken hearts?

How to Mend a Broken Heart is a heart-wrenching and absorbing story about second chances, forgiveness, and making every second count.

 BUY LINKS

 

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THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES…

Many writers have a signature, that is they are well known for writing particular types of  book. It may be romance, chick lit, psychological thrillers, YA or crime. Then there are those who have a geographical signature – setting their stories in a particular country.  In the UK it could be anywhere from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, Liverpool to London.

When I began writing I didn’t realise  I too would develop a signature.  It happened quite accidentally but when working out my plots it seemed my stories always worked well if the person causing all the trouble was female.  In fact, to date, I don’t think there has ever been a bad male character in any of my books.  The inspiration for this kind of woman probably stemmed from watching too many episodes of Dynasty in the 1980s.  Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington really cornered the market where bitchy, devious women were concerned and wore the role magnificently.

Alexis Carrington

My very first commercial novel When Tomorrow Comes saw the creation of Melissa Carpenter.   Mel as a young widow had abandoned her two children Ella and Nick and simply disappeared leaving them to be raised by her parents.  Returning years later as the wife of successful architect Liam Carpenter, she simply waltzes in as if nothing has happened.  She’s manipulative and cold blooded.  It’s all about her.  Glamorous and fashionable she spends a fortune on herself and cares very little for her husband other than his ability to bankroll her spending.  Within months she’s embarking on an affair with one of the wealthiest men in the area.  She also has plans for Ella, wanting to manipulate her daughter into marriage to her lover’s son – all in the name of her own social advancement.  Although Mel is thoroughly unpleasant things do catch up with her eventually and her life starts to unravel. She features in the first three books of the Little Court series and I gave her the sort of  ending she rightly deserved.

My second ‘bad girl’ was Marcie Maguire. She had featured in book three The Ghost of You and Me as a fledgling singer.  Unable to get the man she wanted, despite some devious manoeuvering, she headed back to her home in the States where she carved out a career which rivalled Streisand.  Now in Between Today and Yesterday she’s back and in the mood to cause trouble. By this time Ella is married to Matt Benedict, her long term boyfriend and the man Marcie has in her sights once more.  She almost wrecks their very solid marriage but once again, karma is waiting in the wings as her yacht leaves Puerto Banus.

And last but not least there was Therese D’Alessandro in the final Little Court Novel The Other Side of Morning. Ex-model turned dress designer, she was determined to manipulate her stepson Marco into a marriage of convenience even if that meant interfering in an absolutely awful way to break up his relationship with central female Charlotte.  She was the first of my ‘bad girls’ to escape karma.  I decided I ought to make her demise a little more realistic and less dramatic than the other two.

Moving on to my most recent books, Lily Stephenson was a great antagonist in my South Devon Duo.  In Summer Moved On she was a particularly spiteful creature, but in the sequel, Watercolours in the Rain, I decided to write the three main characters from first person POV and was able to get right under her skin. It was purely experimental but after sending a sample to my editor she suggested I continue.  I have to say I had a great time with Lily – someone with absolutely no moral compass. Despite her dreadful behaviour she too managed to avoid an unpleasant end.  Some readers thought it opened the door to another book which would feature her but for me the story had run its course.

My current WIP doesn’t really feature a main ‘love to hate’ female.  There is Evie Taylor, mother of one of the characters, who deliberately obstructs the course of justice and gets my hero Luke Carrack arrested for something he didn’t do. However, this book is more about love, family loyalties and secrets from the past.

So is this a new period of writing?  Have I ditched my signature and moved on? Well never say never. Currently I’ve almost finished the first draft of my WIP so any thoughts about future projects are on hold for the moment.

 

BOOK 1 – SUMMER MOVED ON

After a long-buried secret tears her family apart, Jess Hayden moves to the South Devon village of Lynbrook to live with her uncle.   Rufus owns the village pub, The Black Bull, and having visited before, Jess knows the villagers well…especially one of them.

Talún Hansen has a reputation, making him the kind of man no decent girl should get involved with.  Jess, however, has been under his spell from the moment they first met.  Although they always seem to bring out the worst in each other, there is no denying the attraction that simmers between them – an attraction Jess knows she needs to keep under control after repeated warnings from her uncle.

As she settles into village life she begins to learn more about this wild, dark-haired gypsy with the compelling eyes, and realises their lives hold many similarities.  Despite her uncle’s warnings, she begins to spend time with him.  For Jess, the coming summer holds passion; for Talún the hope that he has at last found someone who truly cares for him.

But as autumn approaches, a dark shadow from Jess’s past returns, bringing far-reaching and unwanted changes for both of them.

Buy Links for Summer Moved On: http://amzn.eu/jhL5Rub

 

BOOK 2 -WATERCOLOURS IN THE RAIN

JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

Buy Links for Watercolours in the Rain: http://amzn.eu/gqxVfit

 

 

 

BOOK PROMOTION: TRESPASSING THROUGH LIFE by KAT GABRIEL

 

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Trespassing Through Life, by Kat Gabriel

Genre: Literary / Commercial Crossover

SYNOPSIS

In the world of high stakes horse racing among wealthy patrons in the Middle East, Petra Friedland has a demanding and exciting career but feels her personal life is short-changed. Time is ticking away and Petra is haunted by failed relationships and the prospect of a bleak future.

A hot but complicated affair with a younger man awakens a long forgotten passion for life within Petra, compelling her to choose whether to risk the stability she has fought so hard to achieve in order to search for the happy equilibrium she yearns for.

She makes a plan but questions how far is she willing to go – balancing the emotional, material, and physical costs – to achieve happiness and fulfilment.

Will new adventures bring satisfaction or will the past catch up to destroy Petra’s efforts to build a new life?

Trespassing Through Life offers a glimpse into contrasting cultures, illustrated within the exotic and titillating world of equestrianism, thoroughbred racing, and international travel.

BUY LINKS

Lulu bookstore: https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep…
and on:
Kindle!http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CPCHCT2
and Amazon paperback:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/1326581481/ref=tmm_pap_new_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=&sr=

AN EXTRACT

The sun was warm and the sand was soft. Petra shifted her deck chair to the shade of the parasol. At the end of June the tourist season was picking up and every day the beaches became more crowded. Being used to the scorching heat and lukewarm waters of the Emirate, Petra had not yet acclimatized sufficiently to join the swimmers, preferring instead to keep cool in the shade. This is so pleasant, she thought. Just right in fact. Here, she did not have to think about whether her tops had long enough sleeves or if her shorts and skirts were too short. She could openly flirt with passers-by, there was always someone to talk to, and no one looked twice at a woman sitting alone at a table in a café, bar, beach, or restaurant. Yet again, Petra felt sure she had not been wrong about getting out; slightly mad perhaps as what other 50-year- old would do something like this? But she hung onto the thought that great love and great achievements involve great risk. Taking a sip of the ice-cold lime and soda Petra closed her eyes and thought back, not only to her days in the scorching Emirate, and what had triggered her to leave behind such a large and important part of her life.

On her penultimate morning in the Emirate she had slept late, taken a leisurely breakfast, and gone to the Nadi Dar Il Dukhan track. For the season’s final day of racing the Emirate had put its best foot forward. Racing had become big business and held tremendous entertainment value for citizens, expats, and visitors alike. People from all walks of life turned up for the day.

Of the seven races on the race card, Matilda, or Mattie as she was fondly called, was in four of them. Mattie’s yard enjoyed great success that day and at the ensuing party at the yard majlis, Petra spotted Elias arriving with Dr Franco, the race course resident veterinarian.

Elias! The adventure which had landed her on this Maltese beach had started one evening about two years ago.

 

ABOUT KAT GABRIEL

I’ve lived as an ex-patriate since the age of 15 on four continents and in seven countries. By profession I am a journalist and an equestrian instructor. This is my first completed novel (of several planned) where I’ve put fictional characters, events and places to work illustrating the observations I’ve made regarding the fate, emotional dilemmas and life quandaries within multi-cultural international communities. In the past six years I’ve been in the employ of an Arab Royal family which has given me valuable experience and insight into Islamic culture. Because of the roles I adopt, I’ve decided to write under the name Kat Gabriel, which is an abbreviation of my real name (Katarina Gabriella Lauri).

Tuesday Talk welcomes author Richard Gould, chatting about the inspiration behind his books and his choice of some interesting dinner guests…

R J Gould

This week’s Tuesday Talk  sees me  joined by author Richard Gould. Good morning Richard and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thanks for inviting me, Jo. This is a great blog site and I’m delighted to be able to contribute. I write contemporary romantic fiction. Writing in this genre is unusual for a male. My readers are predominantly female and the feedback I receive suggests that the male take on relationships offers an interesting insight.

I’m published by Accent Press and was taken on following membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. I live in Cambridge and am a member of Cambridge Writers where I lead the Commercial Editing Group. Writing can be a lonely activity, but being a member of these two groups brings valuable opportunities to share ideas and receive feedback.

My most recent novel, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, an adult take on the nursery rhyme, is my third publication with a fourth soon to follow.

How did your writing journey begin?

I’ve written many factual articles about education, quite serious stuff addressing underachievement and social mobility. My fiction is a lighter-hearted antidote. The journey into fiction began because of two strong interests. The first, quite simply, is people. I’m fascinated by diversity, resilience, mood swings, irrationality and unexpected pathways. I found myself sitting on a train or at a restaurant, aware that next to me was a wealth of story potential. About ten or so years ago I started jotting down ideas and the imagined characters I created were soon emerging as the protagonists in my novels. A second interest (or maybe fixation is more appropriate!) is humour. I tend to see the funny side of things, even adversity. I use irony and humour to describe my protagonists’ searches for a fulfilling relationship, with considerable mock pathos as they overcome juggernaut-loads of baggage on their journeys to romance.

You’re a writer of romantic fiction. Is there any other genre that you might be tempted to write?

I’m male. I shouldn’t be writing Romance if my experience of being a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association is anything to go by. At their conferences with 200+ delegates, there will be no more than ten or so male authors attending. I didn’t set out to write Romance, I just got put there by my publisher (Accent Press), this no doubt because I write about relationships. In my novels, a mix of highly eccentric and plain ordinary men and women are trying to make the most of their lives. I suppose one distinction between Romance and more typical male writer genres – Espionage and Crime, for instance – is the focus on character rather than plot. That’s not to say that plot isn’t important, but it’s the people who drive the plot in my writing.

So – and it’s taken quite some time to reach an answer to your question – it’s probably ‘no’. With over seven billion people in the world, there’s enough raw material to keep me writing about relationships for quite some time. As an aside, using ‘R J’ instead of ‘Richard’ in my author name is my cowardly compromise after agents suggested that as a Romance writer, I should use a pseudonym.

Where do you get your inspiration for your characters from?

In both A Street Café Named Desire and The Engagement Party, a real life event and people triggered the story – a school reunion and a party. From that starting point imagination takes over as the experience is twisted and distorted beyond all recognition. There might be a similarity between a protagonist and a real life person, maybe someone I know or a person I’ve spoken to at the event and they sound interesting. At speed that person is transformed. I’d never tell someone that they were a character in my novel though I think one friend has guessed but never confronted me about it.

Beach or city? Which location attracts you the most and have you any favourite destination?

I’m OK with beaches, though more for the scenery than hanging around in a lounger frying all day long. But it’s city for me, for the cultural opportunities – the art galleries, cinema, theatre, music, historical buildings – and for all those people to observe as potential future protagonists. As far as favourite destination goes, it would be anywhere in Italy.

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, can you tell us something about it?

I’m working on two novels, one at the final editing stage and one about two-thirds through the first write.

Nothing Man is the story of a mid-fifties man contemplating suicide. Recent difficulties have led to this decision, most significantly, his wife walking out on him and being made redundant. He feels he has nothing to look back on with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope. Bearing in mind the first section of the novel is sub-titled ‘Life Before Suicide Day’ and the second part ‘Life After Suicide Day’, it’s hardly a spoiler to state that he doesn’t go through with it. It turns out that he’s anything but a nothing man as he finds friendship then romance together with career success at a national environmental charity. I hope to have this released late Autumn 2017. (Do email me via my website if you’d like notification of release).

I have a working title for the second novel, but am as yet undecided. This is the tale of a middle-aged couple who seem to be competing for who can have (according to their children) the most embarrassing mid-life crisis.

And lastly, you are holding a dinner party and are planning to invite four famous guests (either living or dead). Who would you choose and why?

What a difficult question, there are so many options, ranging from 20th Century dictators (why on earth did you do what you did?), to Impressionist artists (did being despised by mainstream artists upset you?), to leading scientists (could you please explain in layman’s terms what on earth you’re going on about?).

Here are my four:

  • Charlie Chaplin (for his film work and politics),
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman (for an understanding of her motive for writing The Yellow Wallpaper),
  • Steven Spielberg (for how to write and direct great movies – did you know that he was in special needs at school),
  • and Nicole Kidman (it’s a romance thing!)

R J Gould Website and social media links

Website:                      http://www.rjgould.info

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/RJGould_author

Email:                          rjgould.author@gmail.com

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/richard.gould.14418

 

RICHARD’S BOOKS

 

coverA Street Café Named Desire: A heartwarming romantic comedy

A man’s quest for two dreams – a relationship with the gorgeous Bridget and opening an arts café.
David meets Bridget at a twenty-five year school reunion and instantly develops a teenagesque passion for her.

There is a juggernaut-load of baggage to overcome ahead of having any chance of a relationship – a demanding soon to be ex-wife, a tyrannical new boss, an accountancy job he detests, stroppy teenage children, and encounters with the police.

There’s a further distraction, his plan to quit his job and set up an arts café is proving to be more challenging than he anticipated.

Amazon link: http://Mybook.to/streetcafe

 

The Engagement Party_coverThe Engagement Party: A laugh out loud romantic comedy about family relationships

Two young lovers; two families; one celebration destined to be a disaster.

Wayne and Clarissa are a young London couple whose immediate families are about to meet for the first time. Trying to create harmony amongst mums and dads from very diverse backgrounds and social classes is hard enough but in this case, there are eight parents, step-parents and partners to deal with.

The couple are deeply in love, but tensions arising from the forthcoming lunch party have created such a rift that it’s touch and go whether their relationship is strong enough to survive the event.

If you think your family has its “issues” this book will make you appreciate that things could be a lot worse!

Amazon link: http://Mybook.to/theengagementparty

 

Jack&Jillcover.inddJack and Jill Went Downhill: An adult take on the nursery rhyme

The story of two young lovers who happen to be called Jack and Jill.

Jack and Jill meet on Freshers Big Party Night at an English university and for both of them it’s love at first sight. Despite their backgrounds, personalities and interests being poles apart, the relationship flourishes during their student years.

It’s not quite as comfortable when their studies are over and they move to London to start work.

Way back when they’d first met, they shared the joke that their names were those of the nursery rhyme. Down the line, they fail to recognise that their lives are matching the plot. Jack falls down, Jill comes tumbling after, and their relationship is on the rocks. Can it survive?

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Jill-Went-Downhill-nursery-ebook/dp/B01F2JYV12/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497516611&sr=8-1&keywords=r+j+gould

It’s publication day for Lisa Hill’s debut novel Meet Me at Number Five

 Meet Me at No 5

What if finding happiness was a race against time?

Grace Cavendish knows a thing or two about horses – but what she doesn’t know is that her husband, top horse racing trainer Charlie Carrisbrook, is having a literal ‘roll in the hay’ right under her nose.

When the painful truth is revealed Grace has no choice but to move in with her highly-strung grandmother Clara and cousin Hennie; a single mum who has renounced men (at least that’s what she says!)

Determined to start again, Grace takes a job at the local cafe, Number Five. And whilst serving up coffee and cake is a far cry from the stables, she enjoys it – especially as she gets to work alongside the rather scrumptious Sam Whittaker.

But the past is racing to catch up with Grace. Can her life still be a romp to victory or will a devastating secret stop her dead in her tracks?

MY REVIEW

I really enjoyed this debut novel from Lisa Hill. Set in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire, we are invited into the world of the Cavendish family. Matriarch Clara is 79, the doyenne of horse racing and a well-known owner and breeder. Currently her two granddaughters are living with her. Hemmie has left her trainer husband in Dubai and is seeking a divorce vowing she wants nothing more to do with men. Grace has just moved out of the family property Farrier’s Reach after discovering her trainer husband Charlie Carrisbrook has been having an affair with one of his staff, who is now pregnant.
Meet Me at Number Five has something for everyone and the bonus is we get TWO Choc Lit heroes for our money – American farrier Guy Lynch and restaurant owner Sam Whittaker. It’s a well-crafted story of family loyalties, romance and betrayal set against the glamorous world of horse racing. I loved Clara. She was a brave gutsy woman, facing a huge personal challenge. I also enjoyed the humorous banter between Hemmie and Grace. Hemmie, the eldest works at Cheltenham Race Course, while Grace, with her longing for parenthood now in tatters, has found a job waitressing for Sam at Number Five. However, despite their differences they soon get together to support their grandmother. Charlie was a particularly nasty individual – a wonderful antagonist with absolutely no redeeming features.  I spent a good part of the book praying he got his comeuppance.
And, of course, we can’t forget those two gorgeous heroes – blond Guy who finds himself falling for Hemmie big time and the lovely brown haired Sam, who is not only keen to get his first Michelin star but also to capture Grace’s heart.
Meet Me at Number Five is an excellent debut novel with great characters and a page turning plot. A very worthy four star read.

My thanks to Choc Lit for an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

4-stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa HillLisa Hill grew up in the village of Bussage, near Stroud, in the Cotswolds until she returned to Cheltenham as a teenager. She is married to her very own hero, Matt, and has three sons, Hamish, Archie and Laurence. Her first encounter of a romance author was chats over the garden wall between her father, Godfrey, and Mrs Cooper from the neighbouring village of Bisley. It came as quite a surprise in later life to find that Mrs Cooper was in fact Jilly Cooper! Lisa’s writing inspiration now comes from other Cotswolds authors including Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde.

Lisa writes contemporary romance with a light-hearted tone. What interests her most is people, their interactions, emotions and relationships. It’s probably why her career to date has been based in property; she confesses herself that she is ‘naturally curious’.

When she’s not busy writing, helping Matt run his electrical empire, or being her sons’ taxi service Lisa enjoys running with her gun dog, Sparky. They are both currently training for the Stroud half-marathon although Sparky’s motivation lies much more in chasing bunny rabbits.

Lisa is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and attributes this supportive and informative scheme to her winning the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition 2016 with her debut novel Meet Me at Number Five.

 

Hot on the heels of the publication of her second novel Tell Me No Secrets, I’m catching up with author Lynda Stacey for a chat…

meToday I have Lynda Stacey on my blog.  With two successful books under her belt, I invited her along to chat about her pathway to publication, her writing and what we can expect from her next…

Hi Lynda and welcome. Can I begin by asking you what made you want to become a writer?

Wow… what a good question. I don’t know really. As a child I spent a lot of time reading and getting lost in the written word. Then, when I was around 12 years old, I got a typewriter one Christmas and I use sit for hours making up little stories. At 14, my English teacher used to praise my stories and it gave me a real boost. He advised me to write for a living… it only took me another 30 years to take his advice.
I guess things could have turned out differently if I’d been bought a chemistry set instead of a typewriter…!

You joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Did it help your writing and would you recommend it as a route for budding novelists?

Absolutely. The Romantic Novelists’ Association is amazing. I love the people. It’s like being part of a huge family where you immediately inherit around 200 sisters and a few brothers. Each and every person in the association, without exception has been welcoming, and full of advice. I doubt that I’d be published without them.

The moment you got the call to say you had won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star what was your reaction?

I was still at work, and I wanted tell my husband first. So, I had to wait until I got home to break the news. Of course we opened bubbly and if I’m honest I think I went into ‘happy dancing’ mode for at least a month after.

What inspired you to write Tell Me No Secrets?

This novel was actually the very first book I ever wrote. It started out as a very different book and initially it was about a stolen child, inspired by the Madeleine McCann story. However, everyone who read the initial pages all loved the private detective, Kate Duggan and it soon became very apparent that it should be her story. The whole plot was changed and although I’d already given her the scar on her face, I then needed the back story as to how she’d got it. Needless to say, this novel is nothing like the original one,

Who is your favourite author and have they had any influence on your writing?

Ohhhh that’s a really hard question, I have a lot of author friends and I love them all.
So for me, it’s like asking me to choose a favourite child.

If Tell Me No Secrets were to be made into a movie who would you like to play Kate and Ben? Also have you also anyone in mind for Kate’s mother?

Kate would be someone like Michelle Keegan, she’s normal, down to earth and real.
Ben would most probably be someone like Bradley Cooper, he’s lush.
Kate’s mum is a hard one. I love Kelly Bishop who played Emily Gilmour in the Gilmour Girls. She’d be perfect.

What is next for you? Have you begun writing book 3 yet? If so can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently writing a sequel to House of Secrets, which is difficult. I’d never intended to write one, so I’ve had to take a slightly different angle on it. I am however enjoying visiting the old characters and bringing them back to life.

MY COVER TMNS

Can a secret be worse than a lie?

Every time Kate Duggan looks in a mirror she is confronted by her guilt; a long, red scar reminding her that she was ‘the one to walk away’ from the car accident. Not everyone was so lucky …
On the surface her fiancé Rob is supportive – but the reality is different. He’s controlling, manipulative and, if the phone call Kate overhears is anything to go by, he has a secret. But just how dangerous is that secret?
When Kate begins work at a firm of private investigators, she meets Ben Parker. His strong and silent persona is intriguing but it’s also a cover – because something devastating happened to Ben, something he can’t get over.
As Kate and Ben begin their first assignment, they become close. But, what they don’t realise is how close to home the investigation will bring them, or who will be hurt in the process …

 

BUY LINKS:
Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.eu/iYKsqDv
Amazon.com http://a.co/gxFX11b

Tuesday Talk welcomes writer Ian Wilfred chatting about his writing journey and favourite holiday escapes…

Good morning Ian and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hello Jo, thank you so much for inviting me today. I’m nearer 60 than 50 but in my head I’m 39. I live on the Norfolk coast very near to the beach with my other half of twenty years. I work full time and write whenever I can. I love my garden and walking my dog on the beach – all very boring to other people but to me I feel very blessed to have the life I have.

How did your writing journey begin?

I have always loved escaping into a good book. I’ve also written the odd story here and there.  Then four years ago I published my first book Putting Right The Past. Soon after that we moved to Norfolk and I’ve only started writing again in the last twelve months. My new book The Little Terrace of Friendship came out in March

What made you decide to write romantic comedy?

Over the years I’ve read interviews with authors and publishers advising to write what you know and love.  I love romantic comedy, so that’s what I do.

Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and what do you most dislike?

I love the start when I discover the characters. I roughly know where they are going but always things end up changing. What I don’t like is if I find I’ve created an essential character who isn’t as interesting as the rest.  It’s times like this when I tend to escape to my gardening to work out how to make changes.

Name a favourite holiday destination and the reason it’s so special

This is a no brainer it has to be Parga in Greece it’s on the Greek mainland opposite Corfu. It’s small, quiet and beautiful just perfect. I have so many happy memories of being there with family and friends. Not a neon sign in sight, just a sandy beach, lemon trees  and fabulous restaurants – paradise!  But don’t tell anyone as I don’t want it to get too crowded and popular!

And lastly, you are planning to spend a year on a desert island, getting away from it all. What four ‘must haves would you take with you?’

Oh no not a desert island! I’m far to nosey to be left on an island by myself. I’m a great people watcher in Parga and here in Norfolk. I’m not a lover of cities now I’ve got older. Having said that, I do have 4 ‘must haves’ in life –

a) My iPad – I couldn’t live without it’s news, gossip and, of course, for research

b) My kindle. I never thought I would ever have one as I love a proper book but it is so easy to carry around and you can flick between books to fit your mood.

c) The beautiful Norfolk coastline walking for miles with the dog and family.

d) I could not live without cheese was there ever a better food. Give me a pound of cheese a jar of mayo or pickle and I’m in heaven.

 IAN’S BOOKS

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Carole Harding is in her 50s. She divorced her husband after he cheated on her with a prostitute. She hated her life – working in a Bristol supermarket – and the only exciting thing she’d done was to go on holiday (to Scotland in a caravan).

Then she inherited 2 million pounds.

Now she lives in an apartment in a plush complex in Tenerife, but it seems all her neighbours have problems and Carole finds herself helping to change their lives…

Nadean is the actress who hit the headlines and had to go into hiding; Victoria, a model, why did her family turn against her? Hamilton spent his life traveling the world, earning so much money, but was so lonely; Riley gave up everything for love… Then there are Peter and Paul, who only seem to be happy when having a crisis and Jeremy – who has secrets from his wife and from the law.

As Carole gets involved with the lives of her neighbours, she blossoms into the woman she’d always longed to be… when she meets Robson, can Carole make the biggest transformation of her life?

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON.COM: http://a.co/5X19WEr

AMAZON.CO.UK: http://amzn.eu/eBDnP4C

 

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Maggie Hosking is in her early sixties, and she lived in Devon with a husband who never worked and took her for granted. But now Maggie is going to have an adventure of a lifetime taking her to London, New York and Martha’s Vineyard.

All her working life Maggie has been a cleaner in hotels and private homes. Maggie cleaned for actress Helen Heacham’s parents until their deaths, when Helen moved Maggie up to London to take care of her home. Helen lives in a beautiful terrace in Kensington along with famous and not so famous neighbours. Actors, writers, models and businessmen; they all seem to need a cleaner and that’s when Maggie’s adventure starts.

It’s not just Maggie’s life that’s changing but big things are happening for the other residents in the terrace; success, romance and fraud, but most of all friendship.

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON.CO: http://a.co/dCJc0B6

AMAZON. CO.UK: http://amzn.eu/es6Zf48

 

 

Tuesday Talk is back after its May break and today I’m chatting to Kelly Lacey, the face behind the Love Books Group blog…

16463640_10154068276831008_718298163441721356_oGood morning Kelly and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

My name is Kelly and I am the person behind the scenes of the blog Love Books Group. I live on the outskirts of Edinburgh with my three cats Tilly, Pawkey, and Poppet. My blog came to fruition in January, I needed an outlet to talk about all things books. I thoroughly enjoy the world it has let me become a part of. Getting to meet new people, authors, readers and fellow bloggers has been marvellous. It is now an everyday part of my life and I would be lost without it. It really fills my heart with so much love. I love social media and connecting with other book lovers. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. My favourite book is The Book Thief by Mark Zusak, it’s a very grounding book. When life gets overwhelmed with nonsense, reading a couple of chapters of it really silences the noise and you remember what is important. I also review theatre shows and festivals in and around Edinburgh. Including The Brunton Theatre, The Playhouse and most recently the CoastWord Festival 2017.

What made you decide to begin the Love Books Group?

My mum had been very poorly and I was spending lot’s of time in Dr’s waiting rooms, so I was reading a lot. I can’t recall the exact moment I came across the world of Bloggers, but it was a ‘Whole New World’ and I honestly love all the new friends I have made and the daily spring it puts in my step.

Can you tell us something about the group?

My blog, covers an array of book genres, I try to do blog at least one post a day. With the addition of Theatre & Festival reviews. We have a varied following. I am also always on Twitter and Instagram, talking to other book lovers and sharing my fellow bloggers and author friends posts.

Would you ever be tempted to write a novel? If so, what genre would it be?

I have the idea for a novel in my head. It would most likely be YA Fiction. I don’t know if it would ever come to fruition but the main character Polly is forever wandering across my mind.

Beach or city girl? Which are you and why?

I am a homebody at heart, so I will say Country girl. I like to be snuggled up with my books, blanket, cats and a candle burning in the corner. Usually Lemon scented.

Who are your favourite authors?

Mark Zusak, Jodi Picoult, Gemma Jackson and Shelley Day.

And lastly, you have been selected to take part in ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here. Choose four ideal fellow contestants and give your reasons for selecting them.

Goodness my idea of hell. I would be terrible on that show.
Ok here goes,

Tom Hardy ~ No explanation needed

Vic Watson ~ A lovely lady that I met last week at Noir@TheBar Edinburgh #3 ~ It would be lovely to get to know Vic and she’s a hoot so I know we would never get bored. Her Twitter and Blog are superb. ~ @vpeanuts elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com

Val McDermid ~ I had the honour of hearing Val talk about her new book at The CoastWord Festival. A humorous and natural story teller. She would be a must have for my crew!

And lastly I know it’s soppy but I would take my Mum. She would love the experience and we are a team!

Thanks for having me on your blog today Jo. If your readers would like to connect with me they can do so here:

BLOG: https://lovebooksgroup.blog/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/LoveBooksGroup
INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagram.com/thelovebooksgroupblog
EMAIL: Lovebooksgroup@gmail.com
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/LoveBooksGrp/

Today I’m hosting author Lizzie Lamb as she chats about the places that help bring her novels to life…

Location Location Location

genius loci, the spirit of the place

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Many thanks to Jo for hosting me on her blog and giving me an opportunity to share my novels with you. Readers have told me that they love my descriptions of Scotland and Norfolk. And, I must admit, often a location is the starting place for my novels and then the characters appear in my head, crowding in, demanding that I write down their story. I hope these examples make you want to read on . . . click on each of the links to read a sample on Kindle, buy or share my novels.

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Girl in the Castle – fall in love with a Highlander

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Henri gazed out across the loch, shrouded in a shifting veil of low-lying mist. The castle appeared to float above it and the world beyond seemed unreal, until she spotted Lachlan piloting his boat towards Tèarmannair. His head and shoulders visible above the swirling fog. A heron skimmed over the shifting mist, its spindly limbs trailing behind it as it hunted for breakfast.
At night, it was easy to imagine the castle was a ship sailing untroubled across a wide ocean, the only light visible the beacon on the jetty at the far side of the loch.
Trees on the margin of the loch were reflected as a perfect mirror image of themselves, in ochre, vermillion and acid yellow. Pushing her reading glasses on top of her head, Henri focused on the middle distance where two small islands, topped by scrubby vegetation and gnarled trees bent over by the prevailing wind, gave perspective to the view. Beyond that, round, green hills rose towards the sky, and beyond them were craggy mountains with snow on the peaks.

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Scotch on the Rocks – journey to a Scottish island and fall in love

The Narrows were calm, reflecting the harbour cottages of Jamestoun on their glassy surface and making the fishing port seem twice as big as in reality. Issy loved the red tiled roofs, the whitewashed walls and the three-storey granite building which had formerly housed the local Customs and Excise. She could picture the old railway lines which dissected the cobbled road. Back in the day, when Jamestoun had been a thriving fishing port, langoustines were landed first thing in the morning, packed onto ice and sent down to London, via Oban, to grace the dinner plates in swanky hotels. Now the harbour was mostly filled with private yachts and the occasional fishing boat which took tourists out to the bird colonies in high summer. The brown hills beyond the harbour could look bleak in the winter, but today the sun warmed them, picking out the old fort (now almost covered in vegetation), built after the ’45 Rebellion to quell the unruly Scots.
The road swung inland where, in Victorian times, it had been blasted through a small mountain. ‘The Faerie Falls,’ Issy said, nodding towards it with her head towards a torrent of brown, peaty water cascading over rocks. ‘They say that the wee folk live behind its waters, but I’ve never seen them.’

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Boot Camp Bride – romance and mystery on the Norfolk Marshes

Charlee glanced over the low hedges and dun-coloured fields stretching towards the salt marshes where the sea was a black line on the horizon. There was a stripped back beauty to the place and the flocks of birds heading for the feeding grounds down by the shoreline ensured the view was an ever-changing tapestry. Perhaps, here on the salt marsh, where the wind sighed through the reeds and stirred the dried pods of the alexanders, they could be honest with one another. Confront those feelings which had been simmering beneath the surface since the book launch. Playing his pretend fiancée wasn’t easy; the pretence was beginning to feel more real than the life Charlee had left behind

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 Tall, Dark and Kilted – Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen

The music hit Fliss as she rounded the corner of Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill. The sugared almond pink and yellow houses almost vibrating in the late May evening as I Predict a Riot blasted out from an open window half way down the street.
From their vantage point, the mountains were hidden by trees and Fliss could see soft, rounded hills which swept all the way down to a large loch. The colours were dazzling; the green of the hills and trees, the blue sky reflected in the deeper blue of the loch and the ochre of the sandy beach which gave way to paler sand near a pebble path. The shoreline dipped in and out of the expanse of water and in the distance, at vanishing point, the opposing shores appeared to link hands, cutting the loch off from the sea.
And, way below them, nestled in the trees with a wide lawn leading down to the waters’ edge where it became a beach, sat Tigh na Locha. Solid, ancient, a slice of Scottish history complete with white painted turrets and stepped gables, and with a look of permanency that said: ‘I’ve been here for a thousand years. Wha’ dares challenge me?’

I hope you have enjoyed these extracts and the photos which accompany them. If you’d like to learn more about me and my novels, do get in touch via the links at the end of this post.

Many thanks, Lizzie.

viewAuthor.at/LizzieLamb
“when I’m not writing – I’m dreaming”

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Today I’m delighted to welcome author Madalyn Morgan to talk about her latest book Foxden Hotel, the fifth in the Dudley Sisters saga, due to be published on 10th June…

Foxden Hotel

 

Thank you for inviting me to talk about the fifth novel in the Dudley Sisters Saga, Jo. You kindly featured the first book in the saga, Foxden Acres, four years ago. Foxden Acres began on New Year’s Eve, 1938. Foxden Hotel begins ten years later on New Year’s Eve, 1948.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe war is over. It is time for new beginnings.
Celebrating the opening of Foxden Hotel, New Year’s Eve 1948, an enemy from the war years turns up. He threatens to expose a secret that will ruin Bess’s happiness and the new life she has worked so hard to create. Bess’s husband throws the man out. Is that the last they see of him? Or will he show up again when they least expect? Bess had hoped fascism was a thing of the past, buried with the victims of WW2. Little does she know the trouble that lies ahead, not only for herself, but also for her husband and sisters.
Madalyn Morgan

I have been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. I present a radio show and have written articles for newspapers and magazines.
At twenty-four I gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at East 15 Drama College, and a career as an actress. In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, I taught myself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and began writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, I returned to my home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

I began writing about WW2 after my mother told me about her life in the war. I was fascinated.
Since then I have successfully published four novels – Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue, and The 9:45 To Bletchley. Set in WW2, the novels tell the wartime stories of the Dudley sisters. Bess Dudley is in the Land Army, Margot in a West End theatre, Claire in the WAAF, recruited by the SOE works with the French Resistance, and Ena is a factory girl making components that lead her to Bletchley Park.
Foxden Hotel, set in post-war Leicestershire, brings the Dudley sisters together. It was going to be the last in the saga, but having written three endings – none of which gave the sisters satisfactory closure – there will definitely be more novels to come.

 

A taster from Foxden Hotel…

CHAPTER ONE

‘Happy New Year, Bess!’
A voice, as hard as granite and terrifyingly similar to one from Bess’s past, sent panic searing through her body. She spun round. A camera bulb flashed, temporarily blinding her. She stumbled backwards. Someone grabbed her hand, the lights dimmed, Big Ben began to chime, and the party goers started the countdown to 1949. “Ten! Nine! Eight!–”
‘Happy New Year!’ Bess’s sisters shouted above the chanting, kissing her and then each other.
‘What is it, Bess?’ Margot was the last of her sisters to greet her. ‘You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’
‘I have. Or rather, I’ve just heard one.’ Bess put on a smile and waved across the room to her husband, Frank, who had been in charge of tuning the wireless for the run-up to midnight. Happy New Year, darling, she mouthed. Frank raised his arm to wave, but Bess’s two youngest sisters, Claire and Ena, had arrived at his side and were smothering him in kisses.
‘Come with me. I want you to look at someone and tell me if you’ve seen him before.’ Taking Margot by the hand, Bess led her around the ballroom searching for the face that she felt sure would match the menacing voice that rasped the New Year message in her ear. ‘He isn’t here. He must be in the public bar,’ she said, dragging Margot across the crowded dance floor.
The public bar, which was open to non-residents as well as guests of the Foxden Hotel, was opposite the ballroom. Bess and Margot made their way across the hotel’s elegant marble hall and past the traditional Christmas tree. The hall was bustling with people. Those staying in the hotel were making their way up the sweeping staircase to their rooms, others were putting on coats and hats and preparing to leave, and some were still celebrating – shaking hands and kissing each other.
‘Happy New Year, Bess!’ someone shouted. And ‘A great party, Bess!’ called someone else, raising their glass. Unable to find her voice to return the greeting, or even to say thank you, Bess forced herself to smile as she edged her way through the jubilant throng.
‘Bess? Margot?’ Ena and Claire called, catching up with their older sisters. ‘The chap from the Lowarth Advertiser wants to take a photograph of the four of us,’ Ena said.
Bess stopped dead. Was she mistaken? Could it have been the photographer who wished her a happy New Year? He had taken a photograph of her immediately afterwards, so he was near enough. But the voice? A cold shiver ran down Bess’s back. The voice she had heard was not the friendly voice of the young man from the Advertiser.
‘Bess?’ When she didn’t reply, Ena turned to Margot. ‘What’s going on?’
Margot shrugged her shoulders. ‘I don’t know.’
The door to the public bar stood open. From the doorway, Bess’s attention was drawn to two men leaning against the bar, arguing. One of the men, in his mid-thirties with a broad face, cold grey eyes, and blonde greased-back hair, was holding the hand of a pretty girl with long fair hair. Observing him nervously with big blue eyes, the girl looked as if she was in her late teens, early twenties. The other man – middle-aged with a square jaw, sharp features and receding grey hair – had a protective arm around the young girl’s shoulders.
Bess began to tremble; her legs felt weak. Without taking her eyes off the younger of the two men, she gripped the doorframe with one hand, seizing Margot’s hand with the other.
Margot followed Bess’s gaze and their sisters followed hers. ‘Dave Sutherland!’ she gasped. ‘His hair is longer and the stupid Hitler-style moustache has gone, but that monster is Dave Sutherland.’

Foxden Hotel. E-Book and paperback, available from Amazon on June 10, 2017.
Foxden Hotel: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Foxden-Hotel/dp/B071LDYD2D/
Trailer: https://youtu.be/o997cXtWWLg

Social Media Links
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1
Twitter: Madalyn Morgan@ActScribblerDJ

Writing Blog: http://madalynmorgan.blogspot.co.uk/
Fiction Blog: http://madalynmorgansfiction.blogspot.co.uk/