Round up of News

I’m off to the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference today. It is always a lovely event, catching up with writing friends and meeting new ones. I will never forget the part the RNA New Writers’ Scheme played in my path to publication. I’m looking forward to the event, but I will have to be careful due to my recent operation. Thanks in advance to Janice Preston and Lynn Forth for carrying my case and ferrying me to the venue.

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My most exciting news is that I’ve signed a new contract with Choc Lit for my second novel, working title Rock, Paper, Scissors. It is set in the same seaside town (Borteen) as my debut novel The Girl on the Beach and features some of the same characters too. I will have my editorial report on this new one over the summer and the book should be published in early 2018. Yippee.

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The Girl on the Beach was included in a recent Kobo UK debut novel promotion and reached No 2 in their romantic suspense chart for the second time since it has been published. Thank you to everyone who has bought it. Could I be cheeky? If you have read and enjoyed my work, please post a short review for me on the site where you bought it. I hate asking, but it does make a difference to rankings.

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I’ll report back on my time at the conference next week. The first session I’m going to is called “Write Unforgettable Sex Scenes”!!!!!!!

To buy The Girl on the Beach please click here

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Returning the Spotlight to Choc Lit Author Lynda Stacey

Choc Lit author, Lynda Stacey first joined me for a Spotlight on Guest Author blog on 25 July 2016. Today, she returns with news that her debut novel House of Secrets is now available as a paperback, as well as an ebook! Yay!

Also, since she visited me last time, she’s had another ebook published – Tell Me No Secrets. Congratulations, Lynda, you’ve certainly been busy.

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Lynda Stacey

Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.

Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

I asked Lynda some questions:-

How do you approach writing a novel?

I like to use real places, or real events if I can. With House of Secrets the story was very much plotted around using Wrea Head Hall as it’s backdrop. Tell me no Secrets was plotted around the winding roads of North Yorkshire and Whitby, and a future book will be plotted around the Sand House that used to exist in Doncaster.

I think that using real places make the whole book come more to life. I love people emailing me and saying that they recognised things from within the book, especially Wrea Head Hall which has been described as a character in it’s own right.

You’ve had two e-books published so far. How different does it feel to have a paperback?

Up to now being an author has felt very surreal, even though I’ve put hours and hours of work into the books (five years of work), it still kind of felt as though someone else had written them… that is until you hold the book in your hand, see your name on the front and stare at it for hours. I can honestly say that it’s one of the best feelings ever.

If House of Secrets was made into a film, who would you cast to play the lead parts?

Ohhhhh good question. the book is set in Yorkshire so I would really like actors that could actually sound as though they live here.

I love Michelle Keegan to play Maddie, she’s down to earth, and would bring a realism to the character… yes…, she’d be my Maddie.

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Michelle Keegan (Maddie)

And then, who could resist Stuart Martin from Jamestown, he’s strong, gorgeous, yet just a little vulnerable…. yes… without a doubt he’d be my Bandit.
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Stuart Martin (Bandit)

Liam was a strong Irish character, he’s gorgeous looking, but has a piercing look. So yes, maybe Moe Dunford who has a true Irish accent would play Liam.
Moe Dunford as Liam

Moe Dunford (Liam)

Nomsa, she’d be a true carribean lady, and the lovely Rosemary Murray would be perfect.
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Rosemary Murray (Nomsa)

And Jess… I’d like the lovely Nathalie Emanuelle to play her.
Nathalie Emanuelle as Jess

Nathalie Emanuelle (Jess)

All a bit of a wish list… but… watch this space, you never know what will happen.

What can we look forward to from you next?

Well, I’ve just finished the sequel to House of Secrets which is currently titled House of Christmas Secrets, it’s due to be released later in the year.

Thank you for joining me, Lynda. I wish you every success with your books.

Please find details and links of Lynda‘s books below and how you can keep in touch with the author.

HOUSE OF SECRETS

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A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret …

Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy.

Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.

After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.

But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …

Winner of Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks 2015 Search for a Star competition.

Link to Choc Lit – http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/house-of-secrets/

Link to Amazon: – HOUSE OF SECRETS

TELL ME NO SECRETS

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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 …

Link to Amazon: – TELL ME NO SECRETS

To contact Lynda, you can use the following links:-

 

 

 

 

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Spotlight on Guest Author Lisa Hill

I am particularly pleased to welcome my blog guest this week – Lisa Hill has joined Choc Lit to publish her debut novel Meet Me at Number Five after winning their Search for a Star competition 2016 (the one following my own win in the same competition).

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Lisa 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.

I asked Lisa some questions:-

How is your Heroine in Meet Me at Number Five like you?

There are two heroines in Meet Me at Number Five, Grace who is a blonde and a bit ditsy at times and Hennie who looks a bit like Liz Hurley and has her guard up at all times. Neither are like me but for good reason. Before writing Meet Me at Number Five I wrote two books both set in Yorkshire (I am a self-confessed Sean Bean addict). I received good feedback from people who critiqued them but I just couldn’t quite get anyone to take them on. Two excellent pieces of advice I was given were a) to take myself out of the novel and b) to set a novel where I come from, which in my case is the Cotswolds. So, Grace and Hennie were both crafted not to be like me, however, Clara, Grace and Hennie’s Nana was based on my own Nana, Winifred, who passed away when I was 15. Clara is very like Win, especially her feistiness and her propensity to meddle in situations!

Do you ride?

Sadly, not anymore (although I am seriously considering getting back in the saddle!). I did ride regularly as a child and teen though; my father always said he rued the day he let my mother sit me on a horse on my third birthday as I was hooked from that first ride. My aunt had a rocking horse made for me called Tom, the first horse I ever rode. I was absolutely horse mad, if I wasn’t riding one, I was playing with my Sindy horses but alas the time came when I needed a horse of my own and my parents weren’t in that league so I sadly drifted away from riding.

Lisa & Tom

My passion for horse racing and knowledge came from a man called Alan Wright. He was a HR Director and a friend of my Dad’s and took me on as a Personnel Assistant when I was 20, ensuring the publishing company I worked for paid for me to be put through my HR qualifications at the local university. However, Alan’s real passion was horse racing and he even part-owned a racing horse. So, my daily routine at work focused more around horse racing than personnel as I would sit every morning with Alan while he went through the racing post and then I would be dispensed to the local bookies to place the bets for the day and collect yesterday’s winnings. It was less an education in human resources and more an education in life!

Tell us about your links to Jilly Cooper. (I never tire of hearing this story)

So, I grew up in a village called Bussage, in the Cotwolds, on the edge of the Stroud Valleys, during the 1980s. Our neighbouring village was Bisley, where Jilly Cooper lived and was at the height of her writing career (Riders was released in 1985). My mother didn’t like dogs but my dad loved them so we would borrow our neighbour’s dog and take her for summer walks along the shady valley between Bussage and Bisley. Jilly’s house borders this valley and it was my father’s greatest pleasure to stop and chat with her if she was out gardening. Only, I only ever knew her as Mrs Cooper and it wasn’t until my teens when I started her reading her novels that I made the connection!

Equally, my mother used to meet up for coffee mornings and chats with her friends in the village and during the holidays I would tag along. They frequently discussed this lothario, Rupert Campbell-Black, from the other neighbouring village of Chalford and I used to think what a horrible man he sounded. Again, it wasn’t until I started reading Jilly’s novels that I realised he was fictitious!

How on earth do you fit writing into your busy life?

I won’t lie, it is quite tough! Not only do I have three boys of 14, 11 and 8, we have a dog and we run our own electrical business so I wear three hats mummy, office manager and writer/author. I find the best way is to be organised and disciplined. I am lucky enough to work from home full time so I try and split my day into three; school hours for writing, after school for homework and clubs and evenings for the office admin (it gets quite tiring sometimes!). Then I dip into the office admin and housework during the day when I’m writing. When I don’t have time for writing, I tend to be quite grumpy so I’ve learnt to donate more of my time to it!

Thank you, Lisa. May I wish you every success with this and your future novels.

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About Meet me at Number Five

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 restaurant, 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?

Buying Links for Meet Me at Number Five

Amazon UK: goo.gl/xc4Dxd
Amazon: goo.gl/cnirgC
Kobo: goo.gl/XHd8dC
iBooks: goo.gl/16tMWo

Choc Lit: goo.gl/FYD8kF

Lisa has produced a series of interesting blog posts about the subjects covered in her book. They are well worth a read. The links to these are below:-

Starting Over

Hot Heroes

Nana’s

Infertility

Single Parenting

Cancer

Horses and Fine Dining – to be posted soon

Contact Links for Lisa Hill

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

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Spotlight on Guest Author Henriette Gyland

My guest this week is Henriette Gyland who writes for Choc Lit.

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Henriette grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England after graduating from University of Copenhagen. She wrote her first book aged ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express.

Between that first literary exploit and now, she’s worked in the Danish civil service, for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist.

She has won two prizes, the RNA’s Katie Fforde Bursary in 2008 and the 2011 Festival of Romance New Talent Award, which led to a publishing contract with the independent publisher Choc Lit. She writes very dark, romantic suspense novels, and loves giving her characters that happy ending which troubled individuals are so often denied in real life.

Henriette is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Crime Writers’ Association and the Historical Novel Society.

I asked Henritte some questions:-

Where do you write?

It varies depending on my mood. When I’m stuck on a plot point or a character has something difficult to work through emotionally, I prefer to write long-hand, will sit anywhere else rather than my office, be it the garden, my sofa, the local library or a café. Other times, particularly when writing action scenes, I’ll just bash it out on the computer without stopping to think. A clever friend once told me this has something to do with which part of our brains we’re using for various tasks – sounds very plausible to me.

What inspires your writing?

Anything. Conversations overheard on the bus, a human interest article in the paper, real life crime, cop shows, and much more. I jot things down or cut out articles, then put it all in my “Ideas Box”, which is basically an old chocolate box, for re-visiting later.

In Up Close, how is the heroine like you?

Up to a point, I think our main characters are essentially ourselves, thrown into circumstances and situations very different to our own, and then we theorise how WE might act and react in those circumstances. But characters can often take over and even surprise us. Lia in Up Close is very like me in terms of her no-nonsense efficiency, although her damaged side is purely fictitious.

If Up Close was filmed, who would portray your characters?

Oh man, I’d be like a kid in a sweetshop if that was my decision! Seriously, I’d love for Rachel Weisz to play Lia because she has that doe-eyed vulnerability to her and a toughness at the same time. Aidan could be portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal as he’s so good at the brooding look.

You’ve published 4 titles now – which is your own favourite?

I’m often asked this, and it’s a difficult question to answer, but on reflection I think it’s Up Close (so far). You have a very special relationship with that first book because it’s such a learning curve, and because the path to publication is rarely an easy one. You never forget your first, as they say 😉

Thank you, Henriette, it is always interesting to get an insight into the writing world of another author.

Up Close - Updated cover

About Up Close

Too close for comfort…

When Dr Lia Thompson’s grandmother dies unexpectedly, Lia is horrified to have to leave her life in America and return to a cold and creaky house in Norfolk. But as events unfold, she can’t help feeling that there is more to her grandmother’s death than meets the eye.

Aidan Morrell is surprised to see Lia, his teenage crush, back in town. But Aidan’s accident when serving in the navy has scarred him in more ways than one, and he has other secrets which must stay hidden at all costs, even from Lia.

As Lia comes closer to uncovering the truth, she is forced to question everything she thought she knew. In a world of increasing danger, is Aidan someone she can trust?

Contact Links for Henriette Gyland

Website: http://henriettegyland.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/henrigyland

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/henriette.gyland

Buying Links for Up Close

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Up-Close-page-turning-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B00A3KYSPU/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/up-close-choc-lit

 

 

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Kate Field and The Magic of Ramblings

I first met Kate Field in 2013 when we were both shortlisted for The Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award.

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The Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award 2013. I’m third from the left at the back (with long gone long hair) and Kate is next to me, fourth from the left. You may recognise faces in the picture including Bella Osborne, Catherine Miller, Venessa Savage, Lucie Wheeler, Lynda Stacey, Lizzie Lamb.

I’ve met Kate a few times since and always enjoy our encounters. Some of you will know that recently, along with ten others, I was a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award, the Romantic Novelist’s Association award for newly published novels that have passed through the association’s wonderful New Writers’ Scheme. You can read about the award evening here.

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Kate Field

Kate Field was one of the eleven of us up for the award and her novel The Magic of Ramblings won. Kate herself was so surprised that she was speechless when her win was announced.Ramblingscover

Curiosity led me to read her book when I returned home from London and I have to say that The Magic of Ramblings is a worthy winner. The story drew me in from the first page and I sobbed my way all through the last chapter. I have always said that a book that can make me cry is a good one, as it has transported me into the world of the author and made me care about the characters. The Magic of Ramblings achieved this totally. I loved the story of Cassie and Barney. The character of Frances is lovely. Hoping for a sequel. Well done Kate. I wanted to post this blog as a tribute to your win.

Blurb for The Magic of Ramblings

Running away can be the answer if you run to the right place…

When Cassie accepts a job as companion to an old lady in a remote Lancashire village, she hopes for a quiet life where she can forget herself, her past and most especially men. The last thing she wants is to be drawn into saving a community that seems determined to take her to its heart – and to resuscitate hers…

Frances has lived a reclusive life at Ramblings, a Victorian Gothic mansion, for over thirty years and now Barney is hiding away there, forging a new life after his medical career ended in scandal. He doesn’t trust the mysterious woman who comes to live with his rich aunt, especially when she starts to steal Frances’ affection – and maybe his own too…

Kate Field writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire,  where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive cat. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The Magic of Ramblings is her first published novel.

Social media links:

Twitter: @katehaswords
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateFieldAuthor/
Buying links for The Magic of Ramblingshttp://amzn.to/29ZDTrv

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In Case you Missed Them …

Over the past year, I’ve done quite a few great interviews with my fellow Choc Lit authors. Below is a summary of these just in case you missed them. Just click the dates to read the posts.

Lynda Stacey 25 July 2016

Kirsty Ferry 29 August 2016 & 20 February 2017

Angela Britnell 19 September 2016

Rhoda Baxter 3 October 2016

Jan Brigden 17 October 2016

Berni Stevens 31 October 2016

Liz Harris 14 November 2016

Alison May 5 December 2016

Christina Courtenay 12 December 2016

Victoria Cornwall 2 January 2017

Linda Mitchelmore 16 January 2017

Isabella Connor 30 January 2017

Evonne Wareham 13 February 2017

Clare Chase 13 March 2017

Jane Lovering 3 April 2017

Sheryl Browne 17 April 2017

Margaret James 1 May 2017

Kathryn Freeman 15 May 2017

Just goes to show what great talent is published by Choc Lit. I’ll have more author interviews coming up soon.

Any requests for Choc Lit authors you’d like to see featured here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To London …

I was in London on Thursday and Friday of last week to attend the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party. I was one of eleven contenders for the Joan Hessayon award, a prize for authors who have published a novel after being a member of the RNA New Writer’s Scheme.

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Contenders for 2017 Joan Hessayon Award : Back Row – Lynda Stacey (House of Secrets), April Hardy (Sitting Pretty), Kate Field (The Magic of Ramblings), Vivien Hampshire (How to Win Back Your Husband), Abbey MacMunn (Touched). Middle – Victoria Cornwall (The Thief’s Daughter), Morton S. Gray (The Girl on the Beach). Front – Arabella Sheen (Castell’s Passion), Emily Keer (Who Does He Think He Is?), Terri Fleming (Perception). Not Pictured – Jen Gilroy (The Cottage at Firefly Lake)

Feeling very much the country bumpkin, I travelled to the city with my friend, Susan Wood. My husband travels all over the world with his job and I man the fort at home to look after our sons, in consequence I don’t go very far afield.

It was one of those occasions when a first-class train ticket was little different to second class, so we travelled first :-). When we arrived at the hotel we’d been upgraded :-). I also met for the first time another Choc Lit author, Victoria Cornwall. We have chatted happily online for months, so it was lovely to find that we get on just as well in real life. As the three of us sat having coffee and cakes in the hotel, it already felt like a party.

However, there wasn’t much time to chat, before getting changed for the evening and going to meet our publisher for pre-party drinks. Choc Lit had three authors in contention for the Joan Hessayon award – myself with The Girl on the Beach, Victoria Cornwall with The Thief’s Daughter and Lynda Stacey with House of Secrets. We drank champagne to celebrate.

Unfortunately, it was raining, so we had a rather soggy walk to the Royal Overseas League where the RNA Summer Party was held. On arrival, I immediately felt embraced by the RNA and the contacts I’ve built up during my time as a member. There was a definite feeling of being at home. It is difficult to describe the atmosphere at the parties, friendly, noisy and hot.

The Joan Hessayon contenders had photographs taken as a group and then we lined up at the front of the room. The winner from last year, Clare Harvey with Gunner Girl, gave a speech. It was interesting that Clare had chosen to use her prize winnings to pay for cleaners to free up her time to write her next novel. Then, the spotlight was on the ten people at the front (Jen Gilroy unfortunately couldn’t join us).

As each person was called forward, their face and novel cover appeared on the huge screen and Nicola Cornick, the newly appointed RNA Chairwoman read out the judges’ summary of the novel. When I stepped forward, I was aware that nice things were being said about The Girl on the Beach, but I couldn’t remember them moments later. There was applause and a cheer for me, which was lovely. Alison May, newly appointed Vice-Chair, gave me my certificate for graduating from the New Writer’s Scheme.

The overall winner was Kate Field with The Magic of Ramblings. She was endearingly almost stuck dumb with surprise. I’m reading her novel and it is very good.

Our publisher was, understandably, disappointed not to get a Choc Lit win, but I feel like a winner anyway. My book is published, Choc Lit are currently considering book two and I have loads more in the pipeline.

The trip to London was crowned by a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum. We didn’t have time to see everything, so I need another trip at some point.

If you have read my debut novel, please leave me a short review on the site where you purchased it and if you haven’t read it, maybe it is time ;-). Buying links can be found  here.

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