Auld Lang Syne and all that….

As we hover on the brink of 2017, I’m back, as promised, with the second of my festive posts.  It’s currently 3.45 pm and Thunderbirds are Go for this evening’s meal.  I think when I posted on FB yesterday about my virus it might have appeared I was worse than I really am.  It’s still there but in a very minor form and today happily it’s continuing to improve.  If I had to describe it, it’s a bit like a sticky toffee paper on the bottom of your shoe – difficult to get rid of. The antibiotics were, in the words of the GP, ‘a safety net in case it should get worse’.  Luckily I woke up this morning to find it’s still heading for the door so I haven’t been to the pharmacist today to collect my medication.  I’m actually feeling quite buzzy and looking forward to meeting up with friends to see in the New Year.

Looking back I’ve been thinking about some of my memorable milestones in 2016.

  • First my eye op which meant as far as my left eye was concerned it was no longer like looking through the bottom of a milk bottle!
  • Meeting up with my baby sister after many years.  I’ve a complex family history – a father killed in an accident, a mother who remarried and raised two more children…and a stepfather who thought education was wasted on women – yes you love him already don’t you? As I grew older life became more difficult and I eventually left home when I was 18. My sister was only ten years old.  I had run into her on occasions over the years but when I walked into a restaurant back in the summer and there she was having lunch with her husband, I decided it was a ‘meant to be’ moment.  Of course, we’ve a lot of catching up to do but it’s a feel good situation and one which I hope will only get better.
  • Publishing Watercolours in the Rain.  I honestly thought I would never get there.  Hand on heart there were several moments when I wanted to throw the whole thing in the bin. And it wasn’t artistic temperament that triggered this feeling. The first draft went like a breeze and then I simply hit a brick wall.  I found things I didn’t like, things that didn’t work, but no matter how long I spent, it simply wouldn’t come right.  In the end I told myself I hadn’t put in a lot of hard work in front of the PC and typed up 105,000 words simply to walk away.  But walk away I did – only for a short watercolours-in-the-rain-cover-medium-web-copytime though – and when I came back I could see exactly what I needed to do to fix it.  Working on this improved draft with my editor Elaine Denning, I eventually got the book I wanted.  And the icing on the cake?  Jane Dixon Smith’s wonderful cover. I had definite ideas how I wanted it to look.  I’d sent her sample photos and she sent some of her own ideas back.  Then this one shot arrived and that was it…it was perfect!

Holidaying abroad with my OH on our own.  Yes I know this sounds absolutely crazy but until last September we hadn’t been abroad on our own since 1982!  Although we regularly take some of our UK holidays alone, without exception we have always gone abroad with friends.  This was to be the last of our 2016 holidays – a week in Desenzano on Lake Garda in September. However a month before we were due to fly out our friend had to have surgery and sadly  wasn’t fit to travel.  So the travel agent was advised and the booking changed to two. Taxi pick up and flight were fine (apart from leaving the house at 4am in the morning to get to the airport) but when we arrived in Verona we discovered they had cancelled the private hire to take us to the resort hotel.  The reps were very busy with incoming flights; getting people onto coaches, arranging self drive or like us, a taxi but thankfully it didn’t take long before we were on our way again.  The hotel was amazing. The food, the service, the accommodation – everything was fabulous.  Maybe we didn’t do the same things we would have if four of us had been there (and we did miss our friends) but we met a lot of great people in the week we were there and had a fabulous holiday.

And now here we are with 2017 just around the corner. A new year which will no doubt come with lots of challenges and surprises. For me, my next big event will be starting on the new book next week.  This time I’m over the border in North Cornwall with new characters Jordan and Luke to keep me company.  Exciting times!

I’ll be back with Tuesday Talk on the 3rd of January.  In the meantime…

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

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So this is Christmas…

There’s always a bit of a guilty moment whenever I hear John Lennon utter those words ‘So this is Christmas and what have you done…’  It automatically makes me reflect on the year and ask myself the question – yes, what have I done?

This year certainly has sped by.  Now we haven’t exactly lived out of suitcases but we made it  a New Year’s resolution at the end of 2015 to spend more time away in 2016.  This time last year we had three separate weeks’ holiday booked and several mid-week breaks lined up.  We were very optimistic that out of our selection we’d have some good weather.  And on our UK holidays we might actually get to sit outside not only for lunch but during the evening as well. Unfortunately as far as this country is concerned we are totally under the influence of the Jet Stream. If it settles itself in the north it’s a sign we’re in for a run of good weather.  If it’s south of us then we’ve got problems.  And that’s exactly what it did for most of 2016. So it was very much a year of dodging the rain and keeping fingers crossed when we did hit on a sunny day that it would maybe last. Here’s a look back in pictures of the sunshine and the shadow moments of 2016…

FEBRUARY – SIDMOUTH, DEVON

MARCH – GREENWICH, LONDON

APRIL – RICHMOND

MAY – FOWEY, CORNWALL

JUNE – SALCOMBE, SOUTH DEVON

JULY – LIVERPOOL

SEPTEMBER – DESENZANO, LAKE GARDA, ITALY

Of course holidays and the accompanying photography were just part of this year’s activities. Reading, writing and reviewing take up another big part of my life.  Here I exceeded my target on my Reading Challenge with Goodreads – 52 books read and reviewed.  I had a full diary of guests on my Tuesday Talk…and, of course, I published Watercolours in the Rain, the sequel to Summer Moved On.

So what’s in store for 2017?  Well, I’ll be back in the run up to the New Year to let you know.

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Have a wonderful Christmas everyone…

For the last Tuesday Talk of 2016 I’m joined by Choc Lit’s Search for a Star winner Morton Gray whose debut novel The Girl on the Beach is due to be published in January 2017

 

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

I live in Worcestershire, U.K. with my husband, two sons and Lily, the Maltese.

How did your writing journey begin?

I loved writing pieces for the junior school magazine. Adored English language and literature at school. In my teens, I used to hide away and write poems and stories. I still have my first novel penned at fourteen. My early influences were Enid Blyton books and Errol Flynn films.
Then, life got in the way. One job involved writing board minutes and another training materials, but that was the nearest I got to writing for a long time.
In 2006, I entered a short story competition and, surprisingly, won with my story entitled Human Nature Versus the Spirit Guide, the essence of which may yet become a novel!
I then decided to attend classes to see if I actually could write and entered more competitions, shortlisting in quite a few including the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Elizabeth Goudge conference competition and the Festival of Romance’s first chapter competition.

What made you apply to join the RNA New Writer’s Scheme and how influential has it been in helping you become a published author?

I attended writing classes for many years with author Sue Johnson in Pershore, Worcestershire. Sue is a member of the RNA and told me about the scheme. I joined the New Writer’s Scheme (NWS) in 2012. It is a very competitive scheme to get on to with only 250 spaces per year. The scheme allows for a critique of a novel every year you are a member. The feedback is worth far more than the membership fee.
The Girl on the Beach, which will be published by Choc Lit on 24 January 2017, was written in 2014, put through the NWS in 2015 and entered for Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition at the end of that year. It won!

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

I am working on three novels at the same time. My publisher, Choc Lit asked me to link my books as a series to my debut novel which is to be published on 24 January 2017 and to base them all around my fictional seaside town of Borteen, which features in The Girl on the Beach.
One of the books is the best friend’s story from my debut and I am also working on novels featuring other characters mentioned in this book.

Describe your writing room. Do you prefer to write in silence or with background music? If the latter, have you any favourites?

My writing room is full of books and files, both for writing and family history research, my other love. As it is the first room you come to through the front door, it is often the dumping ground for boots, coats, son’s blazer, etc. Consequently, I am often fighting to maintain my writing space.
I have two huge family trees on the wall, pictures that mean something to me, or inspire me and many front cover postcards from other author’s books.
Although I edit in my study, I tend to write in many places. Costa café is a favourite writing venue, as I find if I go home after dropping my youngest son to catch the train to school, I get distracted by household chores. So I take a notebook and enjoy a coffee while I write longhand, often joined by a poetic friend. I write in waiting rooms – hospital, dentist, doctor’s and at the station waiting for my son’s return train. If my husband is driving, I’ll write in the car.
Music often inspires me, but I tend to listen to that when I am driving. I have a varied taste and am currently enjoying some modern albums that my teenage son has introduced me to, much to his delight. Whole novels can be written from one line in a song.

And lastly, you’re holding a dinner party and can invite four famous people. Who would they be and why would you choose them?

Ooo difficult one!
Davina McCall, because I’ve watched so many editions of Long Lost Family for research for the best friend’s story above.

Kirsty Allsopp, because I love her programmes about houses and crafts and also her energy.

David Walliams as I would like to ask him about his children’s stories.

Tom Hiddleston for some eye candy and because I believe he is a very amusing and intelligent man.

Goodness, looking at those choices, it might be a noisy table!

ABOUT MORTON

morton-grayMorton S. Gray lives with her husband, sons and Lily, the tiny dog, in Worcestershire, U.K.

Morton has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen, the plot of which closely resembled an Errol Flynn film. As with many authors, life got in the way of writing for many years until she won a short story competition in 2006 and the spark was well and truly reignited.

She studied creative writing with the Open College of the Arts and joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme in 2012. Winner of Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star 2016. Debut novel The Girl on the Beach to be published by Choc Lit 24 January 2017.

Previous ‘incarnations’ were in committee services, staff development and training. Morton has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She has diplomas in Tuina Acupressure Massage and Energy Field Therapy.

She enjoys history and loves tracing family trees. She knits, crochets, sews, makes cards and recently had a go at Lino printing artwork.

Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

Web Site www.mortonsgray.com

Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/mortonsgray

Facebook Page https://en-gb.facebook.com/mortonsgray/

 

 

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Blurb for The Girl on the Beach

Who is Harry Dixon?

 

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

 But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

Buying links can be found on the Choc Lit website http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/the-girl-on-the-beach/

 

TUESDAY TALK CHAT TO AUTHOR LAURIE ELLINGHAM ABOUT HER WRITING CAREER AND FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS…

laurie-ellingham-copyGood morning Laurie and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo. Thanks for having me on your blog today. I love meeting fellow authors and bloggers.

A little about me… well I love writing and reading novels (although I guess that’s a given :-)). I live with my hubby on the borders between Suffolk and Essex in a lovely quiet village where our two children – Tommy (6) and Lottie (5) – go to school.

I’m one of those annoying people who loves running. I drink far too much coffee and wine, and eat lots of chocolate too. The best days for me combine running, coffee, writing, and chocolate.

I have a degree in Psychology and a background in Public Relations (although both feel like a long time ago now).

How did you begin your writing career?

Like so many authors I started writing stories when I was very young. I remember writing a lot about orphans and children who could fly. I was lucky to have a very encouraging teacher when I was 8 who patiently read my stories and gave me feedback (Mrs Noakes, Love Lane Primary).
I wrote my first novel when I was 23. It was terrible. Truly awful, and thankfully never saw the light of day. I wrote The Reluctant Celebrity when I was 24, but it got put in a drawer for quite a few years whilst I was busy being a mum to a baby and a toddler. About three years ago I had a very strange morning when both kids were at preschool and I had nothing to do. I went into the loft, dusted the manuscript off and rewrote it. I haven’t stopped writing since. I’m now 33 and despite it being ten years since I first went to PC world and bought myself a laptop to write with, I feel very much at the start of my journey as an author. I love how I seem to learn something new about the craft every day.

What made you choose Contemporary Romance?

I’m not sure if I chose it, or it chose me. The best way I can describe where my ideas come cover-finalfrom is ‘a knock at the door.’ I open the door and there are my characters, bundling into my little writing room to tell me their story. With Jules and Guy(The Reluctant Celebrity) and Katy and Tom (How to Throw Your Life Away), their stories involved romance. The more recent knocks haven’t.

I do love the scope of Contemporary Romance. The best stories for me are ones that make me laugh, cry, and think. Contemporary Romance is a genre which is broad enough for all three to appear in the same novel.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

I’ve just this week finished my latest WIP. I’ve titled it The Stranger on the Boat (although this may change somewhere down the line.). It’s much darker than anything I’ve written before. Here’s a peak at part of the blurb:

‘My name is Abigail Rose Wick. My parents are Sarah and Michael Wick. And I’ve been missing for fourteen years.’
A missing girl returns unharmed. A family torn apart by tragedy begin to heal. But strange things begin to happen to the Wick family….

What’s your favourite holiday destination and why?

I love UK holidays, and I’ve had some wonderful holidays in Jersey and Ireland. If it’s a nice cottage, if there’s space for the kids to run around, if it has a pool nearby, and I don’t have to cook, then it’s a winner with me.

And lastly, if How to Throw Your Life Away was being made into a movie, who would you cast?

I love this question!!!
The first thing I do when I picture my characters is find a photo of someone who looks like them. I stick the photos in my WIP binder and look at them every day.
For me, Katy is played by Keira Knightly, and Tom is played by Damian Lewis. They actually starred together in a play once. This is the photo of the two of them that I looked at every day….

lauries-book-characters

Thanks again for having me!!!!

 

Social media links:

Facebook: Laurie Ellingham Author
https://www.facebook.com/Laurie-Ellingham-Author-281498025371642/
Twitter: @LaurieEllingham
Webiste: http://www.Laurie-ellingham.com

PURCHASE LINK: How to Throw Your Life Away on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2h2gVjj

 

 

Another year over…

2016. Where has it gone?  It’s almost like standing at the side of the road watching Roadrunner accelerate past.  But if the time has gone quickly when I actually stop and think about it I realise I haven’t exactly been sitting around doing nothing.   On checking, I’ve read and reviewed 32 books, most of them for Brook Cottage Books.  I’ve also been involved in 27 promotions for authors.  In between that my weekly blog chat spot ‘Tuesday Talk’ has hosted 37 guests with future bookings running through to March ’17. And this is only one aspect of my life.

In between this, I’ve written and published another book and taken a few holidays and mid week breaks.  That  balance, for me, has been just right.  You can overdose on both the reviewing and the writing if you’re not careful.  Therefore not only taking time out but being away from home gives you the opportunity to escape for a while and recharge those very essential batteries.  Of course a writer never really leaves their work behind and new places can very often lead to fresh ideas and changes to your current WIP. Certainly Desenzano on Lake Garda proved a great place for inspiration. So it’s a win-win situation.On 20th December I host my last Tuesday Talk for 2016.  I’ll then be able to concentrate properly on the Festive Season.  To see friends for lunch, make sure all those names have been crossed of my ‘To Buy’ present list, sort out food for the holiday and – if there’s any time left – get everything ready to make a start on my WIP The Boys of Summer.

I did make a beginning of sorts of around 1,000 words some time back but soon realised unlike most of my writing this wasn’t going to be a ‘seat of the pants’ job.  Yes I do tend to stick with the same formula – get the framework of the story sorted, work out my character bios and get on the road.  This time, however, the story which is currently marinating in my head has taken longer to come together.  That’s probably because I’m  not writing something which goes from A to B.  Instead it will be set in two different time frames – 2013 and 2016.  Another challenge but that’s what I love about writing. Every journey is different.

And to get in the festive spirit, from 10th to 16th December I’m offering the e-book version of Watercolours in the Rain for just 99p on Amazon.co.uk and 99c on Amazon.com.

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Tuesday Talk welcomes Blogger Susan Corcoran chatting about Favourite Authors and a difficult decision over Celebrity Dinner Guests…

13920125_1809932762576335_4952048552376108900_oGood morning Susan and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Hi Jo, I’m what I would call a part time book blogger and a full time medical administrator with the local health board in Cardiff. I’ve been a passionate reader since I was a child and books have been my cwtches since that point. Other than reading, I love going to the theatre and pottering in my garden.

How long has your blog been running and what made you decide to start one?
My blog has been running since April this year. I started it because I needed a challenge outside of work. Books have always been a way to relax and I wanted to share my love of reading with others, while waking up a few sleepy brain cells at the same time. I didn’t really know that book bloggers existed until I joined an on-line book club and having read some amazing blogs wanted to give it a try.

Who are your favourite authors?
That is a difficult one to narrow down! I would say that Ben Aaaronvitch is a current favourite, his PC Grant book series is a must read for me. Robert Galbraith would have to be another, Cormoran Strike is the perfect detective, brooding, flawed and yet he has a strong moral aspect to his character. Tracy Chevalier writes perfect historical novels where characterisation is more important than drama. Deborah Harkness writes novels than manage to combine fantasy, contemporary drama and historical adventures, what more could a reader want. I know Madeline Miller has only written one novel, A Song for Achilles, but I will love her forever for bringing that book into my life.

If you decided to become a writer, what genre would you choose and why?
If I decided to become a writer, I think I would have to write fantasy. I love the freedom it gives you to explore worlds that only exist in your imagination. If you can imagine it, you can write it and the possibilities are endless.

Where’s your favourite chill out place?
That would have to be my garden if the weather is good or my bedroom, because these are the places I love to read.

And lastly, you’re inviting four celebrity guests to dinner. Who would they be and why?
My first guest would have to be John Partridge, West End Actor and former East Enders star. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him a few times. He never fails to make those around him feel they’re the centre of his world in that moment. He has an amazing sense of humour and gives the best cwtches.
My second guest would be J K Rowling. I love her passion of equality and fairness. Her tweets are fearless and her intelligence shines out.
Marc Elliott is another actor who has graced the West End stage and our TV screens. His sense of humour is naughty and dark and having acted with John Partridge on East Enders, they could regal us all with tales of a theatrical nature.
I’m struggling between the lovely Sue Perkins because she makes me laugh and the superb Tom Hiddleston, who portrayed the perfect Loki on screen as my last guest. If I’m to keep the balance between female and male guests, it would have to be Sue Perkins, but I would probably just squeeze an extra place setting around the table!

Susan’s Social Media Links

Blog: https://booksaremycwtches.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Walescrazy?s=0

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Susans-World-of-books-A-personal-blog-1746493225586956

 

 

 

 

Let’s Hear it for the Girls….

‘A writer is not a hermit who writes alone in a cabin in the woods, emerging with an amazing story after a period of time.  No, a writer is a human being who needs others to help bring forth her story and share it with the world.‘ Morgan L Busse

I discovered the above text while  browsing on the internet recently.  At first read it seemed it was all about readers and reviewers.  A writer needs people to read her work; to spread the word.  A sort of domino effect which leads to new readers, reviews, interviews, questions about the next book and maybe if they’re curious enough, a check up on any back listed novels.  And then I realised that readers are only one part of the equation in a writer’s life.  Because in order to ‘bring forth’ that story to the public, a small team of other very important people need to be involved. Incredibly important people in fact – an editor, cover designer and formatter.

  • My editor takes the draft I have written, pummeled into shape and beaten with a stick and works with me to make it even better.
  • My cover designer helps make the vision I have for fronting this book a reality
  • And lastly my formatter, who sets up the e-book and paperback – that final and most essential job leading up to publication day.

So I would just like to send a big thank you to Elaine, Jane, Cat and Rebecca for the all the support they’ve given me in the past. I couldn’t have done any of this without them and  I’m very much looking forward to 2017 when we will all be working together again on my next book.