Saturday, 23 July 2016

Guest Post: Jack Steele - Location Location Location

Today I welcome Jack Steele, author of 'Loose Cannon', to my blog...

Bannister House Flats (where I grew up)
Capturing the essence of a location in my novels has become somewhat of a mini-obsession. It has to be detailed enough to transport the reader into that place but at the same time allow the mind to fill in the gaps and maintain the flow of the story.

I could make it up of course but for whatever reason there is the need for me to visit that location. In my novel ‘Loose Cannon’ I used a pub in Canary Wharf called ‘The Gun’. It has a room upstairs where Admiral Nelson and Lady Hamilton are said to have had their private meetings. They showed me around the pub so I could get a good feel for the place. The research gained from that one visit alone was enough to use in all of my future novels in the series. The compulsion to physically walk through the doors of a pub and enjoy a drink there….. is why I love research!

Brick Lane (where a Mafia family member is attacked)

There are a few exceptions. For instance, there is a scene in ‘Loose Cannon’ where a daughter visits her father in prison. I’ve researched that scene instead of visiting Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Another exception is when a restaurant that I’ve visited closes down and a different building goes up in its place. Then I have to place that restaurant in a location where it isn’t actually there.

So why not use Google Earth or the Internet to walk a route instead of wearing out my shoe leather? It’s just a personal thing that I have to be there. It’s important to take in the sights and smells around Canary Wharf, ride the London Underground and visit buildings to get a feel for their inside as well as their surroundings outside.

The Barbican (because of a sniper attack scene)
Hackney is at the heart of the story because I was born and raised there. Surprisingly there are still a lot of the original buildings standing. The Churches, Fire Station, Bannister House Flats and the Hommerton Hospital are thankfully still there.

A characteristic of my books will be the chase scenes. I’m often dreaming of either being chased or I am chasing after someone. I really feel like I am there!

'The Gun' pub bar area
A friend told me that it’s best not to include passing the doctor’s surgery or the laundromat as it slows down the pace of the chase. I follow her advice even though I have sat in that doctor’s a long time ago or I have taken washing into that laundromat!

It’s all about the balance between what to include and what to leave out. I have been delighted with the reviews so far, many point out their enjoyment of the pacing of the novel. Where some may like a little more detail, others want less and the majority have mentioned that its spot on. So the positive reaction has spurred me on to write the sequel to my Crime Fiction novel ‘Loose Cannon’ which includes more pubs, more landmarks and another chase sequence. Last month I paid a visit to London so that I could witness these locations for real. I’m really excited about this book with all the familiar locations and the new ones which I have added and I’m happy to say, have now been thoroughly researched.

'The Gun' pub where Nelson and Lady Hamilton met

My thanks to Elaina James for this guest post on her impressive blog site.

You can follow Jack Steele on social media:

Monday, 18 July 2016

Guest Post: Karen King

Today I welcome Karen King to the blog to introduce 'The Millionaire Plan' and 'Never Say Forever' which have been re-released by Accent this month.

Author Bio

A member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. 'I DO - or Do I?' her first chick lit for Accent Press, was published in May. She has been contracted for two more. And she is delighted that Accent Press have republished her earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever. The Millionaire Plan was nominated for the RONE Award in 2014.

Karen has had several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children's books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links


Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Children’s Books Facebook Page



The Millionaire Plan


Love or money, what would you marry for?

Amber Wynters is on a mission to find a millionaire to marry - and fast. Her parents are nearly bankrupt and being forced to sell their family home, a beautiful Tudor house that has been in the family for generations, thanks to Amber's ex-fiancé persuading them to invest in his dodgy shares. Armed with a self-help book and a ten-point plan, she sets off to hook herself a rich husband. On a millionaire's yacht, she meets the drop-dead gorgeous Jed Curtess. The attraction between them is sizzling. It's a shame that he is only a hired hand. Can Amber ignore her heart and follow her plan?

Buy Links

Available from Amazon

Never Say Forever


Do you follow your dream or follow your heart?

That's the decision Kendall McKenzie has to make when she meets hunky businessman Jake Newman. He's as attracted to her as she is to him - but Kendall has vowed never to get married, and it seems that Jake has too. When they are together, sparks fly. It's obvious to everyone except themselves that they're meant to be together. Can Kendall trust Jake enough to give him her heart? And if she does, will she have to give up her dream?

Buy Links


Monday, 11 July 2016

RNA Conference 2016

I’ve just returned from three fantastic days at the RNA conference. Having never been to a conference (of any kind) before, I headed off early so that I had time to settle in and get my bearings before the event begin properly. Thanks to the lovely members of the Birmingham chapter I soon felt right at home in the midst of this busy occasion.

I have to admit to being a little bit nervous before I went. Alright, very nervous. I was going to an event attended by so many fantastic and inspiring authors I was afraid I'd feel like an imposer.  Not to mention the nail biting nerves at the thought of pitching my own novel to editors and agents. It turns out though that this is the friendliest group I could ever wish to be part of.

It was wonderful to meet so many writers, particularly those who I’ve been chatting away to online for months.

As for the terrifying prospect of pitching my novel... Well, it was still nerve wracking, but it was also really enjoyable. It was exciting to be able to chat about my writing, and interesting to hear their views, and listen to their feedback and suggestions.  I've come away with so many ideas.

Thanks to all the organisers, agents, publishers, speakers and authors who made this event such a success.  I am looking forward to next year already!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Cover Reveal: The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight by Christina Courtenay

As the velvet cloak of moonlight settled over the ruined towers of Raglan Castle, the shadows beneath them stirred …

When newly widowed Tess visits Raglan Castle, an extraordinary hallucination transports her to a past that existed long before her own – to seventeenth-century Wales and to a castle on the brink of a siege.

Even when Tess leaves Raglan to return to Merrick Court, her husband’s home, the strangeness continues as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with her dreams and visions. And when the new owner of the estate arrives - New Zealander Josh Owens - the parallels become even more obvious. It's time to confront the past head-on.

But perhaps the voices from the past aren’t just trying to tell their own story, maybe they’re also giving a warning …

About the author

Christina lives in Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina’s debut Trade Winds was short listed for the 2011 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction. The Scarlet Kimono won the 2011 Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. Highland Storms (in 2012) and The Gilded Fan (in 2014) won the Best Historical Romantic Novel of the year award and The Silent Touch of Shadows won the 2012 Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance. The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight is Christina’s eleventh full-length novel with Choc Lit.

Follow Christina on Twitter: @PiaCCourtenay

Visit her website:

The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight is published by Choc Lit and is now available to pre-order! The paperback will be out on 7th October 2016.

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Perpetual Girl Guide

Big, but not overly so, my handbag is just the right size to carry my notebooks so I will never be without them.  Its dark black exterior with single beige stripe give no indication of what lies within. To the rest of the world it looks like a smart business woman’s handbag. Who else but I would know its main purpose is to carry my dreams?

However, it doesn’t end there. In addition to my dreams my handbag carries pretty much everything you can think of, and probably a few unexpected items too.

I always carry at least one extra pen. I have my own portable first aid kit from paracetamol to plasters. I’m prepared for any kind of weather with a pair of sunglasses stashed beside an umbrella. A tape measure. Spare plastic bags. Tissues. A pair of pliers. A torch. My handbag is a girl guide’s delight.

Ironically I wasn’t a very good girl guide. At least not according to our troop leader. Nevertheless, I returned each week decked out in my neatly ironed uniform, the traditional version with a bell shaped skirt and badges (the few I had) down my shirt sleeve. This was before it was permitted for girls to wear trousers. It was hideous. Even when the new, more fashionable uniforms were introduced, I remained in my somewhat frumpy outfit. This was definitely not by choice I hasten to add, but rather economic necessity. At least that’s the reason my parents gave. Personally, I think they figured that not even a new uniform would improve my skills as a guide, and there was so much space left on my shirt sleeve for all those badges that I’d never earn, what chance did I ever have of filling a great long sash instead?

Every Thursday I would reluctantly head off to the school hall, while my brother stayed home and watched Top Of The Pops.  I of course was not at all jealous, and the fact I can remember what happened to be on TV is purely coincidental…

Somehow I was eventually made patrol leader. I assure you that I was as surprised as everyone else by this. Our patrols were all named after flowers, given my patrol was nicknamed the awkward orchids you guess how successful my leadership skills were.  I swear I tried.  I would also like to point out that the ‘awkward’ reference was not directed at me.  I was a delightful, if somewhat ineffective guide. There were plenty of other words which could be used to describe me, and indeed our troop leader used most of them, but awkward was not one of them.

In fact the only thing I really excelled at was my ability to ensure that the bulky purse on my belt was always packed with pencils, tiny note books, paper clips and any other potentially useful and sufficiently small item that I could cram in there. The nature badges may have been out of my reach, and admittedly still are (have you read my posts on my attempts at gardening?) but I more than made up for it with my ability to be prepared for any eventuality.

My days in the guides are thankfully behind me and my hideous blue purse has been upgraded to a spacious handbag. Oh alright, several. I am on a permanent quest to find the perfect sized handbag to store my essentials. Which of course includes multiple note books.  

Ever seen Mary Poppins? Of course you have, it’s hard to miss when it’s shown on TV every year. Well, my handbag is like her carpet bag, though I’m still waiting for it to pack and unpack itself.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Book Review: Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter


About the Author:

Author of Please Release Me, Doctor January and Girl on the Run, Rhoda is a former scientist who now works in the field of intellectual property.

 Book Summary:

Shallow, manipulative Sally thinks she has found everything she could ever need in the wealthy Peter.  However, when a car accident leaves Sally in a coma, Peter beings to realise that he doesn’t know Sally as well as he thought.

Grace is everything that Sally isn’t. She is kind, caring, genuine and true.  But most importantly, she’s in love with Peter.  That’s one thing that Sally has never been.


Having loved Rhoda’s previous book ‘Girl on the Run’ I was keen to read her latest; ‘Please Release Me’ and I hoped it would be of the same standard.  I wasn’t disappointed.

I loved the contrast between the two female characters.  I was immediately drawn to the quiet insecure Grace, who’d suffered so much heart-ache and loss and yet still tried to do whatever she could to help others.  My first instinct was to despise Sally and her selfish mistreatment of Peter, but as the story progresses we get to see a vulnerability behind her tough exterior.

The characters are well written and we get to watch them develop and grow as the story unfolds.

It’s a modern take on a fairy-tale, but this time sleeping beauty isn’t content to lie still.  Sally finds that while her body is in a coma her spirit is able to wander through the places she has been whilst she was awake.

It’s a clever idea, well-structured and thought out with an unexpected twist to a timeless classic.