What if you had to learn to stand on your own feet? Although Stevie lost her parents when she was very young, she’s always been able to rely on her brother, Marsh. But now Marsh is married and Stevie feels like she is losing him too. Determined to prove her independence, Stevie sets about transforming…
Good morning Talli and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Good morning! Thank you for inviting me onto your blog.
Over the past few years, I’ve built a writing career on a blend of non-fiction and fiction writing, and a mix of self-publishing and traditional publishing. I started out with a non-fiction publishing deal (The 24 Hours Travel Guides), went on to publish two more novels with a small publisher, then moved to self-publishing. I’ve published my last two novels with Lake Union, Amazon Publishing’s women’s fiction imprint.
I’m also a founding member of Notting Hill Press, a co-operative of differently published writers working together to promote their books.
When did you first decide you wanted to write and how did you begin that journey?
I don’t even remember starting to write – I just did. I was always scribbling something . . . a poem, a short story, a make-believe newspaper article. When I was nine, I wrote my first travelogue, a non-fiction piece called ‘Disasters in Florida’, based on a family trip to Orlando. My real piece de résistance, though, was my novel called ‘Glint off the Gold’, which I completed on the Commodore 64 at age thirteen and sent off to various publishers. And thus began my long love affair with rejections!
My first big break was when Prospera Publishing contracted me to write a London travel guide. Although non-fiction was never really my dream, I figured being published in any genre was a good first step. It taught me a lot about how the process works.
Who are your favourite authors and have any of them inspired your writing in any way?
Such a difficult question! I read across many different genres, so it’s hard to pinpoint one. Growing up, I loved Danielle Steele’s novels – they were so absorbing, and she had such a way of making you care about her characters. Maeve Binchy was another firm favourite. I also loved Sophie Kinsella and her brilliant Shopaholic series. Now, I’m very into non-fiction: autobiographies and travelogues. I love exotic lives and locations!
Can you describe your average writing day – if there is one!
I’m very much a creature of routine, so my writing days are similar. I write Monday to Friday mornings when my son is at nursery. I’m at the desk by around 7:15 a.m., and I work through until around eleven when I need to brush my hair (at least!) and go get my son. If I have any energy left in the evenings, I’ll engage in social media. It’s all downhill after wine o’clock!
Your next novel, Who We Were Before is due out in October with you writing as Leah Mercer. What made you decide on this change of name and will you be writing again as Talli Roland in the future?
Who We Were Before is very different to the previous novels I’ve written – it’s definitely not romantic comedy – and to signal this change, my editor and agent thought a different name was in order. Although I’m not hiding the fact that it’s me, the last thing we wanted was people buying the book, thinking it would be funny, and then being disappointed when it wasn’t.
I’m not ready to give up on Talli yet, though, so I’ll definitely be writing more romantic comedies in the future.
Can you tell us something about Who We Were Before and what inspired you to write it?
Who We Were Before follows a couple two years on from the death of their young son. Their relationship is at a breaking point, and they take a trip to Paris as a last-ditch effort to save it. They become separated shortly after arriving, and they must try to find their way back to each other and the people they were before . . . if that’s even possible.
I had the idea of a lost couple – literally and figuratively – a few years ago, but the rest of the storyline came to me shortly after the death of my father. I’d been toying with the idea of writing something other than rom coms, and after experiencing grief myself, it felt like the right time to be working on this project.
Are you a city or beach girl? If money was no object what would your dream holiday destination be?
I grew up by the ocean, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. That said, I live in central London, so I love the city, the buzz, and all it offers! If money was no object . . . . hmm. Maybe Barcelona? It has the perfect combination of city and beach.
And lastly, if you could invite four famous people to dinner, who would they be and why would you chose them?
Ernest Hemingway would be first on my list. I’m sure he’d have plenty of interesting stories (not to mention I also love his writing!). Next up, I’d ask Margaret Atwood. She’s a fellow Canadian, very generous, and an amazing inspiration. I’d also invite Theresa May because I’m fascinated by her rise to power, and I’d love to learn more her plans for the country. Finally, I’d ask composer Philip Glass, because I adore his music and I’d love to see him play the piano.
ABOUT LEAH MERCER:
Leah Mercer was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada. By the age of thirteen, she’d finished her first novel and received very encouraging rejections from publishers. Leah put writing on hold to focus on athletics, achieving provincial records and becoming a Canadian university champion in the 4 × 400-metre relay. After getting her BA, she turned to writing again, earning a masters in journalism. A few years later she left Canada and settled in London, where she now lives with her husband and their young son. Leah also writes under the name Talli Roland, and her books have been shortlisted at the UK’s Festival of Romance.
CATCH UP WITH LEAH MERCER ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leah-Mercer/e/B01FUZSM8G/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1?follow-button-add=B01FUZSM8G_author&
A powerful novel exploring motherhood, adoption, and family secrets
The beautifully told story of a family haunted by ghosts from the past.
With a glittering future as an architect ahead of him, golden child Aled mysteriously dies on Worm’s Head, a tidal island at the dramatic Rhossili Bay on the Welsh Gower Peninsula
Catrin, Aled’s sister, returns to The Dragon House for the first time since his death with Bethan, her adopted daughter who is Deaf. They join family for a memorial service to Aled to prepare the house for sale. She longs to put the past behind her.
However, the web of lies and secrets which have been spun by her father and others slowly starts to unravel. Catrin, facing a crisis in her marriage, discovers that she must face this past if she is to heal and take control of her future.
Elizabeth, Bethan’s wealthy birth mother, has hidden her past. Crisis in her life prompts her to attend the memorial and see her birth daughter Bethan for the first time. Her arrival sends shock waves through the family.
Hidden Chapters is an optimistic story of the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01L0EZ6MQ
ABOUT MARY GRAND
I was born in Cardiff and have retained a deep love for my Welsh roots. I worked as a nursery teacher in London and later taught Deaf children in Croydon and Hastings.
I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I walk my cocker spaniel Pepper and write. I have two grown up children.
‘Free to Be Tegan‘ was my debut novel. The second ‘Hidden Chapters’ is set on the spectacular Gower Peninsula. I have also published a short book of short stories ‘Catching the Light’.
Catch up with Mary on Social Media :
Good morning Abbie and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Hello, thank you for having me! Well, I’m 25, a Needs Assessor for students with disabilities. I live in the West Midlands with my husband and two kittens who think swinging off curtains is normal.
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?
I never really made the conscious decision really. I have always had a love affair with books and I’ve thought many a time that I’d love to be able to write. I never thought I had the imagination for it, but then I had quite a lot of free time in my previous job and spent a few nights writing a few ideas I had and then it just happened.
What was the inspiration behind The Puppet Master?
The Puppet Master began as a collection of memories I had – then I pondered what message I wanted to send through my writing. I wanted to write a book showing people that even though you may go through something horrific and traumatic – there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can still be happy and not let that ‘event’ define you.
Have you a favourite place to write?
I spent a whole day in Ikea with my poor husband choosing the perfect chair. I got one – but I’ve since discovered I prefer to write in cafes or anywhere there are people!
What are your plans after The Puppet Master has been published? Will you stay in the same genre or write something completely different?
I have a few ideas that I am ruminating on but I haven’t put any significant work into them just yet. I think I probably will stay in this genre but I think once I get more experience I want to branch out into fantasy.
Are you a beach or city girl? Name some of your favourite holiday destinations.
I am neither – I hate sand so the beach is a nightmare for me. And I was brought up in the Lake District so Cities are quite an intimidating place for me! I’m a place in the country type of girl! My favourite places to go are places that have natural beauty. I went to Iceland and it was stunning. I’m going to Croatia soon and I can’t wait for that.
And lastly, if you were able to invite four celebrities to dinner who would they be and why?
Just four! Oh this is hard. I would invite Harlan Coben as he is just a masterful writer and I would love to meet him. I would also invite Sara J Maas, she is the best fantasy writer I’ve ever read and I’m convinced we would get on fabulously. I would also invite Lionel Shriver, I saw her speak at the Hay Festival and she was amazing, inspiring and really funny! My last guest would be J K Rowling, I have so many questions about Harry Potter that I’m desperate to get the answers to so I would love to grill her – over dinner of course.
CATCH UP WITH ABBIE ON HER SOCIAL LINKS
GOODREADS BOOK LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31422186-the-puppet-master?from_search=true
Manipulated by fear and love…could you cut the strings and take back control?
Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?
Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives she ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him but as unwanted attraction and feelings blossom between them, Adam is forced to realise that all is not as it seems.
Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master. He has influenced and shaped them for years, meticulously weaving a web of lies and control around them. Can Billie and Adam survive the betrayals in store and cut the strings that bind them?
One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.
PURCHASE LINK FOR THE PUPPET MASTER
Good morning Diane and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Hi Jo. Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog! I’m an American living in Australia writing suspense novels set in both countries (although only my American ones have been published to date.)
I came to Australia in 1980 as a violinist with the Adelaide Symphony and later moved to a 50-acre farm in Port Lincoln, South Australia. There I discovered and fell in love with writing – while raising two kids, running a donkey sanctuary and keeping every pet you can name!
I tried for eleven years to get published before Random House Australia picked up my first thriller, RUN TO ME, which made the finals of the 2014 Daphne du Maurier Awards. My second thriller, HIT AND RUN, is due for release in early November.
When did you first decide you wanted to write and how did you begin that journey?
I came to writing later in life but my love of story-telling began at an early age and in a rather unusual way. As an only child I had to entertain myself a fair bit. My parents, both classical musicians, had given me my own record player with a collection of records.
These were all big ‘cinematic’ pieces – Nutcracker Suite, Rite Of Spring, Night On Bald Mountain, Fire Bird, Pictures At An Exhibition, etc. As I listened to these works alone in my room, I used my stuffed animals to act out stories that the music inspired.
I created these plays for my own amusement. But one day some friends came around and, with nothing else to do, I put on a record and performed one of my stories for them.
Perched on my bed with my audience seated on the floor before me, I acted out the story I’d invented to go with The Fire Bird Suite. I vividly remember the looks on their faces, their changing expressions as my story unfolded. And what a thrill I felt knowing my efforts had been responsible.
Though it took some time to emerge, I believe it was this early experience that, years later, grew into my joy of writing novels.
Who are your favourite authors and have any of them inspired your writing in any way? Tess Gerritsen is one of my favourite authors and one of her stories inspired my novel, RUN TO ME. I’m drawn to stories about adults befriending children and loved Tess’s novel HARVEST for that reason. The only thing that disappointed me was that the heroine and the child she’s helping never actually meet. In writing RUN TO ME I used that element of an adult helping a child but had them together throughout the story.
What influenced you to write thrillers?
I’m a Hitchcock fan from way back. I’ve watched all of his classics dozens of times.
I so wish Hitch was still alive today creating more masterpieces, I think I’m attempting to satisfy my longing for his work by writing those stories myself.
I don’t write crime and I don’t write mysteries. Though my stories contain elements of both what I write mainly is suspense. Those stories where the protagonist is untrained and totally out of their depth with what’s happening to them. I just love writing stories about ordinary people thrust into dangerous situations who discover within them the courage to be heroes.
Do you have music playing when you write? If so, what are your favourite pieces?
I’ve tried playing music as I write but unfortunately it doesn’t work for me. I guess because I’ve been trained in music, if there’s music playing anywhere near me it demands my full attention, so it creates a bit of distraction.
My creative stimulus of choice is fragrance. Every day when I sit down to write I either light a scented candle (currently burning: Yankee Candles’ Pumpkin Gingerbark) or fire up the essential oil burner (favourite blend: orange, bergamot and rosewood.)
It’s become sort of a writing ritual for me. I read that our perception of fragrance is a function of the temporal lobe, the same part of the brain that deals largely with writing. So by stimulating this area with scents I’m hoping to fire up my writer brain.
Can you tell us about your up-coming new release, HIT AND RUN?
Like my first thriller, HIT AND RUN is set in rural Maine (I just love that part of America!) My heroine, Raina Wilkins, is driving home alone one night when she hits a man who darts from the forest in front of her. The injured stranger climbs in her car and forces her to drive on at gunpoint, but gets out soon after and disappears back into the woods. Raina thinks never to see him again, but Alec DeMarco has left something behind in her car, something others will kill to possess – evidence gathered by a homeless teenager with a deadly secret. When Alec returns for it, Raina is swept into a world of conspiracy, abduction and murder. A world where even the police want her dead.
Has being a professional musician helped you in any way as a writer?
Absolutely! I could fill pages with what I’ve carried over from music! Probably the biggest is that talent is greatly over-rated. I saw this not only as I was learning the violin, but from my years of teaching. I’ve seen so many kids with little ‘natural ability’ go on to surpass more talented ones simply because they worked consistently.
Music ingrained in me the understanding that if I practice something I’ll get better at it. The results of practicing are easy to see when you’re learning an instrument – there’s a passage in the piece you’re working on that’s currently beyond you but after days of focused practice it starts to improve. You know you’ve progressed because today you can play that passage and yesterday you couldn’t.
It’s not as easy to see how your writing is getting better. Sometimes the only way is to pull out something you wrote months or years ago and compare it to your current work. Having learned this from music, however, enabled me to trust that my writing was improving even when I couldn’t see it as readily.
The other thing I learned from music is patience and perseverance. Learning the violin takes years and progress isn’t always steady. Sometimes you get stuck on plateaus where you don’t see any improvement for ages, then suddenly you’ll leap ahead. The same goes for writing.
Another great lesson music taught me was about bouncing back after a failure. I remember once getting really depressed about my playing. I thought to myself, ‘No matter how much I practice, no matter how good I get, there will always be someone better than me.’
In the end I found an answer to that one: ‘Just because we can all speak, doesn’t mean we all have the same thing to say.’
I learned it’s not about being ‘the best’, it’s about acquiring the skills to communicate what’s inside you. What you learn when you practice your scales and exercises is the technique of your instrument. You’re learning how to speak the language of music. Same with learning the craft of writing. But once you’ve learned how to speak in your craft, you alone decide what you will say.
And lastly, if you had to spend a year on a desert island, what four ‘must haves’ would you take with you?
- Lots of writing paper
- A pen that never runs out of ink
- And a trunk full of books by my favourite authors
Thanks again for having me, Jo! Happy writing!
Booktopia Australia http://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?keywords=Run+To+Me+Diane+Hester&productType=917504
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Run-Me-Diane-Hester/dp/1742756425/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400139704&sr=1-1&keywords=Run+To+Me+Diane+Hester
Five Stories: Five Lives
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
About the Author
Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.
Catch up with Helene on Social Media
Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years…
1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey.
All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake.
Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer-
but there’s a price to pay. . .
2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own…
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive.
Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on?
I was privileged to receive a pre-publication copy of Echoes of Time. This is the first time I’ve read anything by Anne and was the fourth time slip novel I’ve read this year – a genre I’ve really come to enjoy.
Beauregard Cottage sits on the site of a farmhouse which burnt down many years ago. There is also something of a mystery surrounding the owner, Olive Falla, who disappeared around the time of the fire. Natalie Ogier, quitting her highly paid job in London, has returned home to the island to escape her abusive partner Liam and begin a new life. Falling in love with the cottage she buys it and discovers the neighbouring property, The Barn, is owned by the farmer’s grandson Stuart Cross, a teacher. A friendship blossoms but anything beyond that seems impossible. Like Natalie, Stuart is also escaping from a painful past so new relationships aren’t on his agenda either. When Natalie begins to hear voices and has disturbing dreams she believes are tied to Olive, she enlists Stuart’s help. Together, with his mother Tabitha (Tabby) who grew up on the farm, they begin to piece together Olive’s life during the war. They hope to establish what happened to her and why it appears her unhappy spirit is now haunting the cottage.
Echoes of Time is a beautifully written story woven between the past and present. Life on Guernsey during the Nazi occupation is dealt with in great detail and shows exactly how much hardship the islanders suffered. A great read and thoroughly deserving of five stars.
About Anne Allen
Anne Allen lives in Devon but originates from Rugby. Finding early on in life that she loved the sea she spent most of her adult years moving from one coast to another. Her happiest time was spent in Guernsey where she lived for nearly 14 years and her books are all set on that beautiful island. Until recently Anne was a psychotherapist but has now retired to write full time. So far she has published Dangerous Waters, Finding Mother, Guernsey Retreat, The Family Divided and Echoes of Time, forming the Guernsey Novels series. The books focus on love, mystery, drama and relationships. A sixth, The Betrayal, will be published in 2017.