In search of that all important moment…

Wordpress 2Arriving back from our week away in Dartmouth I’ve now settled back into writing. Once more  I’m nearly at the end of a book writing journey; one which has taken longer than usual. This is because I wasn’t happy with my opening chapter. I didn’t just revise it, I completely rewrote it . This had a knock on effect through the rest of the book, meaning more time working on changes. For me the first chapter is the most difficult to write. It is also the most important if you are planning to hook the reader and draw them into the story.  Therefore I have to be happy with it.

On 14th September I planned to leave my writing behind keen to take a complete break and spend some catch up time with family. However, there was one key scene I couldn’t leave behind; one I was sure distance and a new environment would help me sort out. The book was complete apart from one crucial scene where the two main protagonists get up close and personal for the first time.  It was all there – the location and scenes leading up to that all important moment.  All I needed was to sit down and hope sometime during that week I’d get the inspiration to write it.

For a couple of weeks prior to the holiday I’d worked through various options. On one occasion I’d actually  written a scene I thought would work.  To a certain extent it did, but not in a way that convinced me I’d cracked it.  So Dartmouth I decided,Wordpress 1 far away from domestic and other day to day distractions, was going to be my salvation.  In those moments between our days out and evenings  spent in one of the local restaurants I sat and watched the river from the window seat in our apartment. It was an opportunity to give the whole thing my total concentration.  And eventually it worked – that light bulb moment arrived.

So now I’m  sitting in front of my computer ready to write that final missing piece of the story. Wish me luck!


Happy Publication Day to Choc Lit’s Search for a Star Winner Chris Penhall and her debut novel for Ruby Fiction The House that Alice Built…

Home is where the heart is …

Alice Matthews is normally very sensible. But when a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’. But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home …

Available to order as an eBook from:
* Amazon:
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* Google:
* Nook:

About Chris

Chris Penhall is the winner of the Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, with her debut novel, The House That Alice Built.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio as well as an Associate Producer of the Richard and Judy Book Club Podcast. She also works on an ad hoc basis doing PR and communications for a hospice and compiles a charities news page for a local magazine.

Born in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! She is now working on her second.
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

You can find more information about her on
or follow her on twitter: @ChrisPenhall
Instagram: christinepenhall



It’s publication day for Where the Snow Bleeds by Wendy Dranfield

where the snow bleeds cover

“You want to know what I’ve learnt after living in Lone Creek all my life? I know the snow bleeds here …”

Former police officer Dean Matheson has been playing it safe since the case that cost him almost everything. But working as a PI doesn’t quite cut it, that is until a British woman walks into his office with a job that Dean can’t resist.
The woman’s daughter, Hannah Walker, and her friend Jodie have gone missing whilst working at a ski resort in Colorado. It’s clear there’s something sinister about the girls’ disappearance, but then why are the local police department being so unhelpful?
So begins Dean’s journey to Lone Creek on the trail of the missing girls – and he’ll soon find out that in Lone Creek, everyone has something to hide …

Book trailer:

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Wendy Dranfield Profile Pic 2018Wendy is a former Coroner’s Assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband.

Who Cares If They Die and Where the Snow Bleeds are the first two books in the Dean Matheson series, with more on the way. As well as her crime thriller series, Wendy has written a YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – and she has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.


For behind the scenes gossip and updates on her books (or photos of her cats), follow her on social media!

My website:

Twitter: @WendyDranfield






Throwback Thursday: Lunch and a trip down memory lane…

Last week I put my writing on the back burner and met a couple of friends for lunch.  I don’t usually do this – it felt a bit like bunking off school – but it was the only dates they could do.  And sometimes it’s good to break from routine.

bridge tea rooms boaOne of my meets was with an old work friend. We met in Bradford on Avon for a light lunch at the double award winning Bridge Tea Rooms near the town bridge. The building dates back to 1502, which means small doorways, low ceilings and beams – not forgetting a couple of well worn steps you need to negotiate as you enter the building.
The tea room has a Victorian theme with waitresses dressed in black with white aprons and caps. The food is excellent with a wide range of options from breakfast through to lunch and afternoon tea.

I have a great fondness for Bradford on Avon with its Saxon church, Tithe Barn and lock up on the town bridge (pictured below) where it was reputed John Bunyan spent a night. It was where I spent my senior school BOAyears after moving to West Wiltshire. Fitzmaurice Grammar School was a smaller school than Marlborough, where I spent my first year. It was also lot closer to home – two bus rides each way as opposed to a daily 30 mile round trip by train. During my first year at Bradford on Avon our form room was at the rear of the school in a long wooden building known as The Gallipoli hut (shown behind the main building in the picture below), which had been erected in 1920. It housed both second years (year 8 in modern speak), the 5th form cloakroom and the male staff room. These huts were like freezers in the winter and saunas in the summer.  Thankfully, by the time we reached the third year (Year 9) weFITZMAURICE GRAMMAR SCHOOL had moved up to classrooms in the newly-built Physics and Chemistry block.  It was in there that the whole class of 3A fell foul of an American exchange teacher. I think the move from  a US high school in Philadelphia to a small provincial grammar school was a bit of a culture shock for him.  I’m sure this was the reason he appeared to have very little humour and even less patience.  On this particular occasion while we were waiting for him to arrive from the main school building a large black Labrador wandered in.  As two of the class tried unsuccessfully to catch it and put it out, he arrived.  Not at all amused, he wanted to know who had brought the dog into the classroom. When told it had come in by itself he refused to believe us.  He gave ‘the culprit’ the chance to own up and when unsurprisingly no one did the whole class was given detention.

P1040776In those days school rules were strict. Any pupil discovered beyond the school gates without their hats or caps were automatically given detention. Eating in the street was another misdemeanour which attracted the dreaded ‘D’. Once a month the headmistress would keep all the female pupils back after assembly. On those occasions we usually had a lecture about short skirts, nail varnish and wearing hair loose below collar length (neither of the last two was allowed). When I see schools turn out today it makes me wonder if she was still around what she would make of 21st century uniform and rules.

Someone else who had her own set of rules was our games mistress.  During winter months the afternoon games period would find her choosing pupils for netball and hockey teams and those left over were sent out with the boys on a cross country run.  No gloves, no scarves but at least we got to keep our jumpers on!  The run was all along the Avoncliffecanal to the hamlet of Avoncliffe (picture  right) a couple of miles out of town then back along the road and into school. Remembering occasions when the fog came down really thickly I sometimes look back and wonder whether it ever crossed her mind about the danger of sending young girls out in twos and threes along deserted tow paths (in those days the local canal was full of duck week and fallen trees). On really cold days we got into the habit of setting off only to spend our tythe barn boatime in Tithe Barn (left) where there was a certain degree of protection from the elements. We had the whole thing down to a fine art; staying there for the right amount of time and then sneaking across the railway line and back into town,looking suitably breathless as we struggled back to the changing room!

On rainy days our PE lesson was spent learning ballroom dancing. Sometimes the boys were ‘persuaded’ to join us and of course they hated it! It did, however, give us a grounding in the tango, the waltz, the cha-cha and an introduction to Scottish dancing by way of the Gay Gordons and the Dashing White Sergeant.

When I finished my four years at Bradford on Avon I was looking forward to college, a business diploma and the intricacies of the typewriter keyboard. College meant no uniform, a more relaxed regime and being treated like an adult. It was the final step towards the working world. But even now, wandering around the town soaking up the memories and seeing the changes which have taken place, in some ways I Fitzmaurice_Grammar_Schoolreally miss those school days. Most of the teachers are, of course, long gone. The school closed in 1980 and transferred to Christchurch Secondary School at the top of the town (a larger  more modern campus with the potential to extend) to become St Lawrence Comprehensive. For several years after the school stood empty and neglected – a sad end for this lovely building.  Nine years after closure it was eventually rescued. The main school was converted into accommodation and several new builds added in the grounds to provide 42 upmarket retirement flats with a new name – Fitzmaurice Place.  A happy ending after all.


Today is publication day for Marie Laval’s latest novel A Paris Fairy Tale


A wonderful new book from the author of the best selling novel, Little Pink Taxi
Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters?

 A PARIS FAIRY TALE  is available as a ebook and audiobook on Amazon and various other platforms here.



AUTHOR PICOriginally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for the past few years. She writes both contemporary and historical romance, as well as short stories, always with ‘a French twist’. A SPELL IN PROVENCE, her debut contemporary romantic suspense, and historical romances ANGEL HEART, THE LION’S EMBRACE and DANCING FOR THE DEVIL, are published by Accent Press. Her latest contemporary romance, LITTLE PINK TAXI, is published by Choc Lit, and watch out for A PARIS FAIRY TALE, soon to be released by Choc Lit!




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You can also find on Pinterest the many beautiful photos of Paris and illuminated manuscripts which inspired the writing of A Paris Fairy Tale. (




An Italian Affair…

As a holiday destination Italy always been one of my favourite countries to visit.  The people, the history, the food,  the pace of life, the weather, and so many amazing places to explore.

I have a close affinity with water and boats – Dartmouth and Fowey being two of my favourite UK holiday destinations.  So it’s not surprising when I arrived in Garda in 2001 for a week’s holiday, I was totally smitten.  I’ve been back twice since then.  Another stay in Garda and then across the water to Desenzano, the biggest town on the lake with its rail link to Milan and main ferry terminal.

Hotel Villa Rosa, Desenzano

When I began to develop the plot for A Cornish Affair, I needed my heroine Cat’s father Ruan to have two long term friends who would become key players in this story. So I created Gareth Hunter who like Ruan had been born and raised in Carrenporth and Étienne Di Marco. Étienne and Ruan had met at university.  Both from hotel owning families, they became good friends and over the years kept in touch.  Half French-half Italian, Étienne now owned the Casa D’Oro hotel group and was based at their flagship hotel Fiore Del Lago on Lake Garda.  The creation of this character and his hotel was helped by the fact we had recently stayed in Desenzano at the Hotel Villa Rosa and I was so taken with this beautiful hotel, I  used it as inspiration for Fiore Del Lago.

But it wasn’t only the hotel. The lake is one of the most relaxing and atmospheric places I’ve visited so taking Cat there to work for Étienne was like going on holiday without leaving home!


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If you’d like a trip to the Italian Lakes to join Cat in Desenzano,  A Cornish Affair is one of four books currently on offer as part of an Italian Summer Sale. You can buy on Kobo, Kindle and Apple.  And at just 99p for the e-book version it’s  una grande offerta.  The sale ends midnight on 17th July

Even in your hometown, you can feel like an outsider …

In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.
The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.
But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …


A Cornish Affair – Meet Emelia Trevelyan

Day three and it’s Great Aunt Em’s turn under the spotlight.

If ever there was a character I loved creating it was Emelia Trevelyan – ‘call me Em’.  On the surface she is a strong willed, cantankerous elderly woman. Rules simply do not apply to her.  As the story begins she is a member of a group of elderly women ‘The Gossip Girls’  from the village who create mayhem wherever they go.  But scratch the surface and you will find a completely different character.  She is incredibly lonely after losing her brother Gerren and his wife Jenna.  A year ago they handed the hotel over to their son, Em’s nephew Ruan, and left for retirement in France.  Em has never married. She spent her early years living at the Tarwin House Hotel and then when her parents died she inherited Caer Gwyn a circular white house set on a small promontory  a quarter of a mile away.  When Gerren told her about their plans to move to France, she hoped she might be a part of it.  Unfortunately she wasn’t.  Realising how much she missed their company, Ruan invited her back to live at the hotel; to be part of his family.  Unfortunately Em couldn’t help interfering in the day to day running of Tarwin House and Ruan was constantly having to speak to her.  Feeling more and more isolated, when Rosalind Myers, self styled leader of the Gossip Girls, offered her the opportunity to join their group, Em was delighted.  Her action in bringing them into the hotel and letting them snoop around the family’s private apartments saw Ruan sending her straight to back Caer Gwyn.

Gradually Em began to recognise how damaging Rosalind and her cronies’ actions were, but breaking away from them was difficult.  Being a part of the group appeared to be the lesser of the two evils. The alternative was a lonely life with her housekeeper and Hamish her West Highland terrier.  Things eventually came to a head one morning outside the town’s small supermarket where she was rescued by Nathan and Cat.  And it was Cat who came up with an idea which would channel Em’s energies in a different direction and give her a new purpose in life.

Em is, of course, pivotal to one of the most important parts of the book, as witness to a murder, but you will have to read A Cornish Affair to discover how she becomes involved…




Even in your hometown, you can feel like an outsider …

In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.
The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.
But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …

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