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Showing posts from 2016

Guest Post - Alison May - The Secret To Christmas Shopping

Today I welcome Alison May, author of Midsummer Dreams and Sweet Nothing. Alison tells us a little about her festive book; Christmas Kisses, and shares her secrets for how to do Christmas Shopping the right way. - - - Having written three Christmas novellas you’d think I’d have written every possible Christmas related scene by now, and, to be fair, I’ve done a good few of them. I’ve written turkey dinners with all the family. I’ve written a Christmas wedding, and Santa’s Grotto. I’ve written a heroine desperate to get away for Christmas and a hero equally desperate to get home. But one thing I realise I’ve not written very much about is Christmas shopping, which is a shame, because Christmas shopping is an area where I have views. There is, without question, a correct way to approach it, and, equally without question, all three heroines in the Christmas Kisses stories would do it wrong. Holly, from book one, would be someone who hates Christmas shopping. She would complain abo

A New Job

I have a new job! I'll be the accountant for a library. I think that's about as close as my day job and my writing can get, at least until writing becomes my day job anyway. A girl can dream, can't she? However it's been a while since I changed jobs; 7 years in fact, and the thought of moving on is utterly terrifying. So terrifying that I almost talked myself out of going for the interview. Then again, it could have been the requirement to make a ten minute presentation (with visual aids) as part of the interview that was increasing my nervousness. The presentation went well in the end, (even if my PowerPoint slides did get out of sync with my speech as a result of my inability to remember to press the button at the appropriate time). Which is fortunate given the topic I was tasked with presenting is not only a real project, but will be one of my first pieces of work when I start my new job. Negotiations have now commenced for my start date in my new role. As it

Social Media For Writers

photo courtesy of Anita Chapman On Saturday I set off on my writer related travels again. This time to London, for NeetsMarketing's Social Media Course for Writers, run by the lovely Anita Chapman. It seems fitting that I met Anita through social media. After learning lots of useful tips from her NeetsMarketing blog  I invited her to be a guest on my blog back in March, and she wrote a fantastic post for me on Taking Twitter to the Next Level . We finally got to meet in person at the RNA conference in July and caught up with one another again at the HNS conference in September. But it was great to attend one of her courses and learn from her in person. Saturday's course covered twitter, facebook, instagram and blogging. Whilst I've been blogging and using social media for over a year it was amazing to discover there was still so much that I didn't know. Anita was full of handy tips that were like little light bulb moments, as I discovered there's a much easi

Guest Post: Ros Rendle - Fumsup

FUMSUP or TOUCHWOOD CHARMS FROM THE VICTORIAN ERA A ‘fumsup’ may also be known as a ‘touch wood’ and as the name indicates they were for good luck. They first appeared at the end of the 19th century and were very popular during the beginning of the 20th century. There was a surge of interest during World War 1 when many were given to soldiers to take abroad as a charm hanging from a button or to be worn on a watch chain. It was suggested during this era that the name comes from the Roman era when an emperor would give the thumbs up sign to save someone during a battle of mortal combat. On the box of one of these little charms there is a poem to suggest the Victorian’s believed this to be the origin: When Romans fought With sword and knife, The sign – thumbs up – Meant – spare a life. Some historians believe this not to be the case but for the charms to have a registered design number as they do, on the back, they would have needed a name and so ‘fumsu

Book Review: The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi Swain

Rating: About the Author: Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously. A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the off bottle of fizz, she now writes contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters. She joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2014 and is now a full member. The manuscript she submitted for critique, The Chery Tree Café, is her debut novel published by Simon and Schuster in July 2015. She lives in Norfolk with her wonderful husband, son and daughter and a mischievous cat called Storm. Links Twitter: Blog: Facebook: Book Summary: They say you can

The People's Friend Writing Workshop

A few weeks ago I noted that my writing seemed to be taking me on a tour of England. I couldn't help wondering where it would take me next.  It turns out the answer was York, to The People’s Friend Writing Workshop. My grandmother got me started reading The People’s Friend years ago. Money was tight so the magazine was passed between my Grandmother, Aunt and Mum before eventually making its way to me.  Often by that point it would be a few pages short where someone had ripped out an interesting recipe to try later, or a knitting pattern that was added to their ever growing collections. I didn’t mind the somewhat well-read state of the magazine, all that interested me were the stories. Though I did learn to check that the entire story had survived before I started reading… These days it’s just Mum and I reading the magazine and sometimes I even get to read it first. Oh the thrill of reading a magazine that is fully intact before someone has stolen their favourite parts

Guest Post: Mark West - A Web Presence

This week I'm delighted to welcome author Mark West to the blog. I started publishing in 1999 and managed to catch the tail end of the small press zine world - those ‘for love’ magazines and periodicals so beloved of genre, homemade and often stapled though some were perfect bound. Moving into the noughties, as the Internet slowly grew in usage, those physical mags became webzines. It was a brave new world out there and, Luddite that I am, I resisted for a while - I didn’t want my story to appear online, I wanted it to be in an edition I could put on my ego shelf (I often still feel the same way as we careen towards the ‘20s!). But aside from markets, the Internet promised much more - a web presence. I think most of those early adopter websites have long since disappeared (thankfully) but I’m convinced that if you could find any now, they’d be full of rotating skull gifs, dripping blood gifs, screams (whoever thought a website that screamed at you whenever you clicked on i

Historical Novel Society Conference 2016

One of the things I love about books is their ability to transport me somewhere else. I can leave behind my own surroundings and lose myself in another time and place. What I didn’t anticipate when I started writing however was that books not only have the power to lead me on adventures to unknown destinations in my imagination, but they also do so in the real world too. My naïve assumption that writing is a solitary pursuit has been proved wrong so many times this year as I found myself drawn into the sociable side of being a writer. What has surprised me the most though is how writing has lead me to journey across the country. Each summer when I was a child my parents would load up Dad’s Peugeot 205 with camping gear and we would head off on holiday. The long drives were passed fairly amicably with endless games of ‘I Spy’ and the inevitable repeated question; ‘Are we there yet?’ Until eventually Dad pulled into the campsite. Mum and I weren’t particularly what you cou

Guest Blog: Shelley Wilson - Should You Plot It Or Pants It?

When I began writing stories in the 80s, I was a classic pantser – I didn’t realise it at the time because I was barely eight years old, and to waffle on for pages and pages about the fairy at the bottom of the garden seemed appropriate. My mum would ooh and aah in all the right places, and my teacher would add a smiley face at the bottom of my page. Little did I know that they were lulling me into a false sense of security. The revelation of being either a pantser or plotter would only become known to me once I hit forty. I wrote blindly, hoping to get to the brutal end of my story with a suitable middle and a punchy beginning, but it never panned out. I would inevitably run out of steam, or my characters would become bored with their adventure. It was in 2013 when I was finally introduced to the joys of plotting. Eager to take part in my first NaNoWriMo contest (National Novel Writing Month – a contest to pen a 50,000 word novel in 30 days), I engaged in the forum discussions

Guest Post: Chrissie Bradshaw - Once Upon A Moon

I just had to use the waxing and waning of the moon as the timeline for my novel, ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’… Last month, I enjoyed reading Jack Steele’s contribution to Elaina's blog. It was on visiting and choosing the right locations for a novel and I thought about how vital the setting of place and time are to any novel. I decided to carry on the theme of setting this month by writing about how I have shown the passage of time in my debut novel, ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’. I write contemporary fiction and my currently released novel is set in the present day, 2015 to be precise. When I was writing, I had a calendar out to track events from May to September but I just knew that my characters would feel happier if I used the waxing and waning of the moon as the timeline for my novel. This could be lots of fun when I got it right but, at times, it was a headache to track the moon calendar of 2015 and make sure that it was in synch with the events in the novel. Why did I d

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 m

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 Website: http://www.karenk

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 excitin

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 Ja

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

Book Review: Please Release Me by Rhoda Baxter

Rating: 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. Review: 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 co

Cover Reveal: Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover

When a little girl goes missing, an entire town comes together to find her ...  When Tia Walsh rides into the small town of Coorah Creek on a Harley Davidson, Sergeant Max Delaney senses that everything about her spells trouble. But Tia's trouble is not all of her own making, and the dangerous past she tried to leave behind is hot on her heels.  Sarah Travers has returned home after three years of college to find that her parents have been keeping a devastating secret. Her childhood crush, Pete Rankin, is facing his own struggle with a harsh reality that will take him away from the girl and the life that he loves. Tia, Max, Sarah and Pete are all trying to find their future, but when a little girl goes missing in the harsh outback, nothing else matters except finding her safe ... About the author Janet lives in Surrey with her English husband but grew up in the Australian outback surrounded by books. She solved mysteries with Sherlock Holmes, explored jung

Nothing but the truth: when a novelist writes non-fiction by Helen Barrel

I’d always written fiction. If you’d said to me, “the first published book with your name on the cover will be non-fiction,” I wouldn’t have believed you. But so it is. There might seem to be a gaping chasm between the two forms; airy-fairy imaginative stories over on the fiction side, and on the non-fiction side, a desert of hard, dry fact. But I’ve found that my background in fiction has come in very handy for writing non-fiction, and I’ll explain why. Staying the course By signing the contract for Poison Panic , I was promising Pen and Sword, my publisher, that I would write 60,000 words. I thought back to the longest piece of non-fiction I’d written up until that point – my undergraduate dissertation on Agatha Christie (can you see a theme developing?) – and that was 12,000 words. How the heck was I going to write 60,000? But it didn’t scare me.  Although none of my novels have ever been published, apart from a self-published spy thriller back in the late 1990s (when se