Where does crime writer Catherine Fearns get her ideas from?

This week I am delighted to welcome crime writer Catherine Fearns to my blog.  Catherine is the author of an intriguing series of thrillers.  I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two so was delighted to hear that she’s writing the third.

Me

Hi Catherine and welcome to my blog.  First off, tell us a little about your books.

CF

I write crime thrillers with a supernatural element. Set in contemporary Liverpool, they are inspired by the Victorian gothic, and by the occult detective stories of the early twentieth century. Readers can follow the story as a straight police procedural, or they can wonder whether there might have been other forces at work. I wanted to develop this idea of the unknowable, of the hidden world beyond our own, and I wanted to watch Detective Inspector Darren Swift’s gradual journey from cynicism towards an acceptance of the supernatural.  

Reprobation is inspired by the concept of predestination; the theological doctrine that God decided at the beginning of time who would go to heaven (the elect), or hell (the reprobate). It’s a concept that has always fascinated me. One day I was walking on Crosby Beach, where everybody in Liverpool does their best thinking, and I suddenly had the idea for a story based around this theme. I stayed up all night writing, and by the next morning I had several thousand words and a cast of characters in my head. A crime thriller gradually developed around them. 

Consuming Fire is the sequel to Reprobation, and was published in February 2019. It is also inspired by spiritual themes, although it has a very different feel. When I moved to Switzerland two years ago, I discovered the mysterious phenomenon of coupe-feu. There are traditional healers, known as guérisseurs, who use a combination of pagan ritual and Catholic prayer to cure a range of conditions. Coupe-feu cures burns. It’s still common in Switzerland, and is even done over the telephone. So I rather blasphemously turned this around and wondered what happen if instead of praying to angels to cure burns, you prayed to demons to cause fire? And you did it over the phone? Around the same time I discovered an eighteenth century German epic poem by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, which has an obscure subplot in which the fire demon Adramelech plots to become more powerful than both God and Satan. So I thought you could create an evil cult out of these two ideas, a cult that may or may not be responsible for a series of crimes.  

Consuming Fire also employs the gothic technique of the ‘found text’; the main narrative is interspersed with extracts from a mysterious seventeenth century grimoire that may or may not be real. 

Me.

That’s brilliant. (Great covers, too!)  So, how would you describe your genre?

CF

Crime thrillers. Although my books could also be considered within the Supernatural Suspense or even Horror genres. Reprobation can certainly be read as a standalone, but Consuming Fire is a sequel, and I am currently writing the third in the series. 

The Blurbs

Reprobation

Are you one of the elect?
Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.
When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.
Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.
Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

Consuming Fire

Liverpool is in the grip of an intense heatwave, and strange things are happening.
A woman dies in an apparent case of Spontaneous Human Combustion; a truck explodes on the dock road; the charred corpses of pets litter the city; forest fires ravage the pinewoods…and there are birds everywhere, silent flocks drawing in ominously.
Detective Inspector Darren Swift thinks there are connections, and his investigation delves into the worlds of football, nightclubs and organised crime. But is he imagining things?
Dr. Helen Hope doesn’t think so. And she believes the key lies in a mysterious seventeenth-century occult book which has gone missing from Liverpool Library.
In the blistering sequel to Reprobation, DI Swift is forced to confront some inconvenient ghosts from his past, as a terrifying shadow lies over his city’s future….

Me

Both are cracking good reads.  What inspires you most when you sit down to write?  Is it characters? Settings? Books you’ve read?  Or none of the above?

CF

Theme came first; in fact, I didn’t start out writing a crime thriller at all. I started writing about predestination, because I wanted to understand it. I wasn’t sure if it would be a blog post, a piece of historical research, or even a song! But very quickly a story began to construct itself, and the characters took on lives of their own. Before I knew it I was writing a crime thriller. Setting is important; the books are very much tied to their location of Liverpool, and in that sense I have been inspired by crime fiction that has a strong sense of place; for example Dennis Lehane (Boston), Ian Rankin (Edinburgh). Now that I’m on to writing my third book, the characters are well-established and I would say they are taking the lead. DI Darren Swift, Helen Hope and Mikko Kristensen are on their character arcs and I can’t wait to see what happens to them!

Me.

I love the characters and am really looking forward to meeting up with them again.

So, tell us a bit about your writing journey.

CF

Over the years I always loved the writing aspects most about the various jobs I was doing. I worked in banking and had several papers published in very dry financial journals. But I didn’t even imagine being a creative writer until very recently. I was a stay-at-home mum volunteering as a breastfeeding counsellor with a health charity, and I was asked to write a review of some breastfeeding apps for their in-house magazine. It was a very short project but I enjoyed the writing process so much that I think I got the bug. Shortly after that I began writing a blog, more as a diary than anything else, and I found the process very cathartic. The blog led to me getting work as a music journalist, and I was so enthused that within a year I had published nearly fifty articles. Writing for magazines and websites gave me the discipline of being professionally edited and I began seriously learning the craft. I joined a writers’ group and tried some short stories and flash fiction. I had to work hard to stamp out the clipped, legal tone in which I had been trained to write professionally, and it was a joy to return to a more natural, literary style. I would say that my writing is still quite concise though. My books are relatively short; I definitely wouldn’t describe myself as florid!

Reprobation was not my first attempt at a novel; a 60,000-word manuscript for The Veilmaker lies hidden password-protected beneath a series of subfolders on my laptop. I cringe to think that I actually submitted it to a few agents, and it has now been abandoned! But this was the novel in which I taught myself how to write a novel. 

Me.

We’ve all got those hidden away first attempts, haven’t we?  But, as you say, it’s the best way to learn your craft.  Tell us a little about your future plans.

CF

I’m really excited about the third book in this series, entitled Sound, which is currently being edited and will be released this September. It’s very much a sequel to Consuming Fire, and the three books form a trilogy. After that, if people are still enjoying my series I’d love to carry on and see where it leads. There is a lot of potential I think.

But I also have a couple of ideas floating around for historical novels. My degree was in History, and I loved the historical research I had to do for Consuming Fire, including the process of writing the seventeenth century pastiche elements. 

I will also carry on with my freelance music journalism; it barely pays but it’s a great excuse to go to the heavy metal concerts that I love. 

Me.

That’s great.  I have to admit, heavy metal music is a closed book to me but I absolutely loved that aspect of your books.  And as for the gorgeous Mikko…..

Now, how about sharing with us three things that we might not know about you?

fearnslowres

  1. 1. I almost became a concert pianist. As a teenager I performed in big competitions and had an audition for a conservatoire. But I decided to do an academic degree instead. For a while I played for weddings, restaurants, theatres and so on, but I eventually stopped completely. And it’s probably my biggest regret. I always feel a bit sad when I sit at a piano now. I’m sure that’s why I write about music. And why I force my kids to have piano lessons! 
  1. 2. I play guitar and sing backing vocals in a heavy metal band. I absolutely love it, but I’m not very good at the guitar, I don’t really know how to sing, and I’m by far the oldest in the band. Our drummer is 14, to give you an idea. It’s like that movie School Of Rock, and I am definitely the embarrassing Jack Black character. 

3. Reprobation was written entirely at night. My youngest daughter didn’t start school until this year, and I have three other children, so my days were full. Plus I was too embarrassed to tell my husband I was writing a novel, so I didn’t write in the evenings. I would wait until everyone was asleep and then sneak out of bed. Now I have weekdays to myself when the kids are at school, and I’d like to tell you that Consuming Fire was written at a romantic desk or in a lakeside café, but I have to admit that my favourite place to write is my local McDonalds. 

Me.

McDonalds, eh? Now, that’s something I have yet to try!  Thank you so much, Catherine for such a fascinating interview.

And now, for those all important social media links

 

Website: https://www.catherine-fearns.com/

Twitter: @metalmamawrites

The all important buy link.

mybook.to/reprobation

mybook.to/consumingfire

Author Bio

Catherine Fearns is from Liverpool, UK. As a music journalist she writes for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction pieces have been published in Here Comes Everyone, Toasted Cheese, Offshoots & Metal Music Studies. She holds a degree in History from Oxford University, a Masters from the London School of Economics, and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association. She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children. 

Where does crime writer Alice Castle get her ideas from? Plus an apology (from me)

I don’t name this ship….. The launch that wasn’t. 

When I started this blog it was with the intention of posting every couple of weeks or so and chart my journey from publication of my first novel, Murder Served Cold, and beyond as well as featuring other authors.  And I did manage 24 blog posts since I started the blog in April 2018, so it was all going ok.  At the time of my last blog post Murder Served Cold had been  published and  I was (sort of) looking forward to the launch of the second.  

But then…. stuff intervened.  Family stuff.  Work stuff.  But mostly ‘why did I ever think I could make it as a writer?’ stuff.  

The second book in my Much Winchmoor Murder Mystery series, Rough and Deadly, wasn’t exactly launched with champagne breaking over the bows and  brass bands playing as it raced down the slipway and hit the water with the force of a tidal wave.  Instead there was barely a ripple as it slipped quietly in and skulked around in the shallows.  And it was all my own fault.  It had some lovely reviews and my grateful thanks to all those lovely people who took the trouble to leave a review.  

But now I need to sit myself down, reread those reviews carefully in the hope that this will give me the confidence I need to get back in the boat* and start paddling like mad. No brass bands maybe, but perhaps a little toot on a penny whistle.   (*I was going to say ‘get back on the bike’ there but the pedant in me wouldn’t permit such a mixed metaphor). 

I love writing.  And I particularly love writing my Much Winchmoor series and working on the third one is the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition.  But, oh, the marketing. The self promotion.  The need to be constantly running on the treadmill that is social media just to stay still.  It paralyses me.  

When I meet people who have read my books, one of two things happen.  Either they say they enjoyed it in which case I feel acutely embarrassed and try to shrug it off and change the subject or they don’t mention it at all and then I assume that they absolutely hated it but are too kind to say so.

So what has all this whingey whiney stuff got to do with not blogging for four months?  As excuses go, it’s a pretty lame one.  “I found out that while I can write ok, I am absolutely rubbish at promoting and marketing. ” But as I said, the never ending to-do list that is my marketing plan paralyses me.  Overwhelms me.  Sends me off in a frenzy of house cleaning. filling in my tax return, or looking at pictures of Dalmatians (all better behaved than mine) on Pinterest.  

But, no more.  Today I am making a start by catching up on my blog posting because I have a very special guest to welcome.  One who not only writes brilliant books but is equally brilliant at promoting them.

So, enough about me and on to what brought you to this page in the first place.

Where does crime writer, Alice Castle, get her ideas from?

Me.

Hi Alice and welcome to my blog.  And to the question that every writer is said to dread.  Where do you get the idea for your books from?  And how did you settle on the lovely Beth Haldane?

Alice.

acb2 ryeI’ve been reading whodunits since the age of 12 but it took me about forty years to start writing my own. My first novel was chicklit and I worked on the sequel for ages, getting nowhere, wanting to kill my heroine, before I thought, ‘wait a minute… that’s an idea.’ Then, as a massive Miss Marple fan, I looked around for my own St Mary Mead to set the stories in. I’d just moved out of Dulwich and missed it very much and that affectionate nostalgia, added to some useful distance, made it seem the perfect spot. I was keen to write a series so I thought hard about a sleuth who would be quirky and slightly annoying, so people would think they could do better than her, but who would still remain engaging enough to have people on her side. I wasn’t at all interested in creating another of those omniscient male detectives who looks down on the female victim laid out on a mortuary slab and swears to wreak vengeance on ‘the man who did this.’ Those books can be great but that wasn’t what I wanted to write. Then, once I’d thought of the title of the first book, Death in Dulwich, I was off. 

Me.

Setting is so important, isn’t it?  Even though the only time I’ve ever been to Dulwich I was stuck in an horrendous traffic jam, reading your books has made me want to visit the area again and check out all those lovely coffee shops!  So, what made you decide to set the stories there?

Alice.

I’ve always lived in south east London and I love my slice of the city. We’re twenty minutes by train from London Bridge yet there’s enough green spaces and birdsong to feel as countryfied as I want to get. South London is quite run down and has its share of urban woes so, sadly, it’s fertile territory for a crime writer. 

Me.

Is there anything from your life before you became a writer that you feel has been of use to you as a crime writer?

Alice.

I was a feature writer on the Daily Express but occasionally covered big news stories – as a journalist you’re exposed to a lot of facts which are too grisly to make it into the papers. You also need a glancing knowledge of the law and of policing to cover a lot of stories so it’s pretty much a crash course in crime writing – except you’re supposed to avoid fiction  

Me.

The first in the series was Death in Dulwich published in 2017 and now you’re about publish  the sixth in the series, The Body in Belair Park on June 25th.  How do you see it continuing?  Or would you like to write something else?

Alice.

I love the London Murder Mysteries series and already have a seventh book planned. I’ll continue for as long as anyone will read the stories and publish the books. I do have other projects on the go – I’ve written a psychological thriller and I’m going to try my hand at script writing. It’s good to have changes of pace and direction to keep things fresh. 

Me.

I’m delighted there’s going to be more in the series and have already pre-ordered The Body in Belair Park which I’m really looking forward to.

So, what inspires you most when you’re creating a new story?  Characters?  Settings? Books you have read?

Alice.

I think I’d have to say my heroine, Beth, is my biggest inspiration. I like to see what she’ll do next when she’s up against it – it’s never anything I would do myself.

Me.

And how did you writing journey start?  Have you always written?  What was your first published piece.

Alice.

I’ve always written. A kind teacher said something nice to me about a snippet of writing when I was about 5 and that was enough to make me feel it was something I could do. I’m very grateful to that teacher. I used to make miniature magazines for my dolls – I still have a copy of Good Mousekeeping I made when I was about 9. My first published piece was an article in The Sunday Telegraph when I was 20 and at university. Then life, children and a career intervened for a bit and my chicklit novel Hot Chocolate finally came out when I was 46. Death in Dulwich was published in 2017. 

Me.

Thank you so much for a lovely interview, Alice, and for all the reading pleasure your books have given me.  Also, for inspiring me to stop whinging and get on with things.

Alice’s Author Bio and social media links

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim and also hit the number one spot. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, was published in August 2018, with Homicide in Herne Hill following in October 2018. Revenge on the Rye came out in December 2018. Alice’s  sixth London Murder Mystery adventure, The Body in Belair Park is published on June 25th. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

Links to buy books: http://www.MyBook.to/GirlintheGalleryhttp://www.myBook.to/1DeathinDulwich,

http://myBook.to/CiC

http://myBook.to/homicideinhernehill

http://myBook.to/revengeontherye

Death in Dulwich is now also out as an audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07N1VNMLT/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-140657&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_140657_rh_us

Alice’s latest book (No 5 in the series)

finalrye.jpgRevenge on the Rye – blurb

Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, thinks she is going for a carefree stroll on Peckham Rye with her best friend, Katie, and her annoying new puppy, Teddy. But before Beth knows it, she is embroiled in her most perplexing mystery yet.

Strange events from her family’s past, present-day skulduggery in the art world, and the pressures of moving school in south London threaten to overwhelm Beth. Will she be able to piece together the puzzle before her son’s crucial interview at Wyatt’s? Or will Beth’s insatiable curiosity finally drag down all her dreams for the future?

Join Beth, her irascible on-off boyfriend, Detective Inspector Harry York of the Metropolitan Police, and the dog walkers of Peckham Rye in a tale of murder, mayhem – and bloody revenge.

Where does romance writer Katie Ginger get her ideas from? Plus Daily Prompts for 16th – 31st January.

The Interview

Appearing in the hot seat this week is contemporary romance author Katie Ginger whose latest novel, The Little Theatre on the Seafront I read and enjoyed recently.

Me.

Hi, Katie and welcome to my blog.  So, the big question:  where did you get the idea for your book from?

Katie

unadjustednonraw_thumb_826My inspiration for The Little Theatre on the Seafront came partly from the lovely little seaside town I was born in and partly the slightly larger town I moved to about five years ago. Deal is  beautiful quiet town with a pier and a gorgeous seafront where a lot of actors and actresses moved to in the late sixties. Charles Hawtry of the Carry On films lived there in one of the lovely period houses in the conservation area, and I’ve even spotted the amazing Guy Henry having dinner in one of the restaurants before! Folkestone, where I moved to about five years ago, has a harbour full of small fishing boats that go out every morning and come back with the tide. Both places have quirky High Streets full of galleries, cute little cafes and fancy restaurants. Greenley-On-Sea, where my story based has elements of both because I love being by the sea.

The theatre itself is inspired by an old disused building on the seafront in Deal. From what I’ve heard it was a place where the Royal Marine’s used to play and in later years was used as a bingo hall! I think because I love theatre so much, in my mind it became a crumbling theatre that needed saving! 

Once I’d decided on a theatre and some crazy amateur dramatics, I needed an MC and my brain created Lottie – a quiet, subdued woman but with a strong determined core. When Lottie’s beloved Nan dies she leaves one last request; save Greenley Theatre. And when a reluctant Lottie takes up the task along the way she discovers love and friendship but the big question for her is, can she save the theatre and still follow her heart?

Of course Lottie would need a sidekick and someone to talk to, and as a result Sid came to be. Sid is Lottie’s best friend and has been since primary school. He’s geeky and clueless when it comes to women until Selena comes along that is! The rest of the cast started springing up as the plot grew in my mind, and before I knew it I had a novel all plotted out with some eccentric actors in the Greenley Players!

The Little Theatre on the Seafront explores why community and community spirit is so important, it also touches on why every town needs arts and culture, and of course there’s got to be a bit of love and romance! 

Me.

I really warmed to Sid!  And how would you describe your genre? And is the book a standalone or part of  a series?

Katie.

The genre is contemporary romance and I’d written originally as a standalone but in my reviews people have been asking for me to think about a sequel, so I am!

Me.

Great.  It’s always a good thing to listen to your readers, isn’t it?

The Book’s blurb.

When Lottie’s Gran dies she leaves one last request; save Greenley Theatre. 

Faced with a decaying building, a mayor who most definitely isn’t on board with the project and a group of actors who just can’t get along, Lottie has her hands full, but with best friend Sid by her side she knows she can do it somehow. 

But the arrival of Jeremy, a hotshot London developer who sweeps Lottie off her feet, complicates things. Suddenly Sid gets a new girlfriend, the Greenley Players fall apart, and that crumbling building? Well it crumbles a whole lot more. With no one to turn to, Lottie has to find the courage to save the day. 

Will Lottie be able to save the theatre and also follow her heart?

Me.

So what inspires you most? Characters?  Settings?

Katie.

My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere! It can be people, places, events…anything! Sometimes though you have to just sit down and think, ‘What would I like to write about?’ and build a plot and characters from there! I don’t believe in just sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike!

Me.

Wise words indeed!  And how did you writing journey start?  Have you always written? 

Katie.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_827I used to love writing stories when I was little but then I got a bit older, life took over and before long I’d convinced myself I couldn’t write creatively anymore. Then in 2014, I got made redundant from my job in the Heritage industry and it gave me an amazing opportunity. I decided to use some of my redundancy money to take a creative writing course and spend a summer doing something I used to love. I was lucky and had some success getting some cosy mystery short stories published and once I’d written The Little Theatre on the Seafront I decided to try and get a traditional publishing deal. I got some rejections of course, but it’s important to take the feedback and just keep trying. I eventually got my deal with HQ DigitalUK through their Twitter pitch they did in 2017 and it was actually for a different book but when they offered me a two book deal I sent them The Little Theatre on the Seafront and was lucky that they liked it too! 

Me.

What was your first published piece?

Katie

It was actually a cosy mystery short story called Murder Upstairs and was published by Zimbell House Publications in their Whodunnit anthology. 

Me.

And, finally, what are your future plans?

Katie.

I’m working on some new ideas now that I’ll be talking to my editor about soon and my second book with HQ DigitalUK comes out in October 2019. It’s got a lovely Christmas theme and as Christmas is my favourite time of the year I can’t wait to get it out into the world!

Me.

Thank you so much, Katie, for answering my questions so patiently and the very best of luck with your next novel.

Katie’s Social Media links

Website: www.keginger.com

Twitter: @KateGAuthor

Instagram @katie_ginger_author

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/KatieGAuthor

 

The link to buy Little Theatre of the Seafront: https://amzn.to/2QU7X8d

Daily Prompts   January 16th – 31st

I hope Katie’s story has inspired you to get writing.  If so, here are the latest set of writing prompts to further inspire you.  (For hints on how to use these, check out my earlier post, Writers’ Prompts

16. January brings the snow, makes the feet and fingers glow.

17. Picking up a hitchhiker.

18. Simple pleasures are the best.

19. In a silent moment.

20. Write about what you see from your nearest window.

21. Refusing an invitation.

22. Being misunderstood.

23. A remembered smell (good or bad!)

24. The longest mile is the last mile home.

25. A new pair of shoes.

26. Is there anybody there said the traveller/knocking on the moonlit door. (Walter de la Mare)

27. Once when I thought no one was watching.

28. The anniversary.

29. A good listener.

30, Sitting in front of a fire.

31. A childhood injustice remembered.

Where does author Megan Mayfair get her ideas from?

I am delighted to welcome Australian writer, Megan Mayfair to my blog this week.  A few months ago I read Megan’s debut novel, The Things We Left Unsaid, which I enjoyed very much and invited Megan to appear on my blog, by which time her second novel, Tangled Vines, was published.  It is on my DTBR (Definitely To Be Read) pile and  I’m looking forward to it very much indeed.  

Her third novel, The Problem with Perfect is due out in 2019.

Tangled Vines.jpgThe Things We Leave Unsaid.jpg

 

The interview

Welcome to my blog, Megan.  So, what is it that gets your creative juices flowing and acts as a starting point for your writing?  Which is just another way of disguising the question all writers are said to dread – namely,  where do you get the ideas for your books from?

(Every time I write that sentence, I always feel it’s grammatically incorrect – but who on earth says ‘From where do you get your ideas?’ these days?  If you do, then my apologies to you – and deep respect.)

Megan.

Secrets make for a great starting point for my writing. I’m particularly interested in family secrets. Those little decisions made or information kept from others that can have serious ramifications down the line. It’s a common theme in all my books, particularly the unravelling of each secret and finally understanding how it impacted on everyone’s lives. 

The idea for my book, The Things We Leave Unsaid, came from my own family history research. While I didn’t find any mysteries as deep as Clare did when she started to look into her own family tree, I realised how many secrets and mysteries in our pasts that we don’t even realise may exist. 

Me.

And are your books standalone, or part of a series?

Megan

The Things We Leave Unsaid is a standalone novel. I love my characters, Clare and Tessa dearly but I feel they have told their stories. 

Tangled Vines is a romance and family saga. It too is a standalone novel, however, we will see the characters again in The Problem with Perfect set for release in 2019.

The Books Blurbs

The Things We Left Unsaid

Is it the things we don’t say that haunt us the most?

Clare is anxious to start a family with adoring husband, Pete. When she takes on the seemingly simple task of obtaining her late mother’s birth certificate, she finds herself in a family history search that will challenge everything she thought she knew about her life.

Scarred by her parents’ ill-fated marriage, Tessa lives by three rules – dating unavailable men, building her café into a food empire, and avoiding her father. However, when her carefully planned life is thrown into chaos, Tessa is forced to decide which of these rules she’s willing to break.

As Clare and Tessa’s paths cross and their friendship grows, can they both finally unlock their family secrets in order to realise their futures?

Tangled Vines

Amelia O’Sullivan is a photographer who has always viewed herself through the wrong lens. When her marriage publicly crashes around her, she flees to the safety of her aunt’s country property to pick up the pieces. Can she adjust her focus to what she really wants from her life?

Born into a wealthy and powerful family, Frederick Doyle may seem like a man who has it all, but behind the scenes, a bitter business feud threatens an irrevocable family split. As he fights for control of the winery he’d built from the ground up, he finds a supportive ally in Amelia and becomes increasingly beguiled by her creative spirit.

Jill McMahon is a successful novelist suffering from writer’s block over her latest manuscript. Finding her niece, Amelia, at her door, reminds her of the bonds of family, but in seeing Amelia and Frederick’s relationship grow, a long-forgotten and painful secret threatens to re-surface.

Can Amelia, Frederick and Jill untangle themselves from their pasts or will history simply repeat itself?

Me. 

Thanks.  I really enjoyed Clare and Tessa’s stories  and can’t wait to meet Amelia, Frederick and Jill.  So now, let’s talk about your writing in general. What inspires you most when you set out to write?  Is it characters?  Or maybe settings? Or something else entirely?

Megan

I find characters really inspire me. Sometimes they appear fully-formed and I’m desperate to tell their story. I like flawed characters in particular – people who aren’t perfect but have redeeming qualities. 

Me.

And how did your writing journey start?  Have you always written?

Megan. 

I always wrote as a child and teenager, and then after that, I guess life got in the way with university, work etc. I worked in public relations so as part of my work I did a lot of writing – media releases, articles etc but not so much creative writing. I came back to creative writing a few years ago and The Things We Leave Unsaid was my debut novel.  

Me.

And your future plans?

Megan

My third novel, The Problem with Perfect is due out in 2019. 

Me.

That’s wonderful.  Something else to look forward to.   And thank you, Megan,  for being such a lovely guest.

The Important Bits!

You can buy Megan’s books by clicking on the links below.

The Things We Leave Unsaid: https://mybook.to/leaveunsaid

Tangled Vines: https://mybook.to/tangledvines

Megan’s Social media links are

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meganmayfairauthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/MayfairMegan

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meganmayfairwrites

Author Bio

MeganMayfair.jpgMegan Mayfair writes about families, intrigue and love. Every book contains a bit of humour and a lot of heart. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three young children, and has a background in public relations and higher education.

Megan drinks far too much coffee and has an addiction to buying scarves. She interviews other authors her blog series, Espresso Tales, and loves a bit of #bookstagram.

Her debut novel, The Things We Leave Unsaid, and second novel, Tangled Vines, were both published by Crooked Cat Books in 2018. Her third book, The Problem with Perfect, will be published in 2019 by Crooked Cat Books.

Where does author Rachel Brimble get her ideas from?  Plus a book recommendation from my granddaughter and daily prompts January 1st -15th

A book recommendation from Ellie

I hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2019.  

I love this time of year. It always reminds me of going back to school after the long summer holidays and the joy of having a whole new set of exercise books to write in. 

 I was lucky enough to have a couple of lovely new notebooks under the Christmas tree this year.  I love them – and, what’s really exciting is that my twelve year old granddaughter shares that enthusiasm.

Ellie and I had the best time this Christmas, ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over stationery (she had a lot more than me!) and discussing a book that she’d really enjoyed and recommended to me.  It’s called “A Place Called Perfect” by Helena Duggan and is such a good read that I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

Where does author Rachel Brimble get her ideas from?

I’m delighted to welcome yet another guest author to my blog this week who is brave enough to tackle the dreaded question.

I’ve recently read and really enjoyed Rachel’s book, The Mistress of Pennington’s .  I was initially drawn to it as it was set in the beautiful city of Bath, a place I know well and love dearly.  I was not disappointed and was soon drawn in to the story and its cast of fascinating characters.  The book was rich in wonderful period details, set as it is around the beginning of the Suffragette movement.

Me. Welcome, Rachel.  I really enjoyed reading Mistress of Pennington.  So, tell me, where did you get the idea from? 

Rachel: I have always been fascinated with past female progression and one issue in particular is women’s suffrage. The fight for the vote has been something I’ve wanted to explore in a novel for years and when I was writing book 1 (The Mistress of Pennington’s) in my Pennington’s Department Store series, I was thrilled when one of the secondary characters put herself forward as a suffragist.

It wasn’t long before the plot for book 2, A Rebel At Pennington’s, emerged!

Cover

Me. I can’t wait to read that.  So, how would you describe your genre?

Rachel.  The Pennington’s books are set in the Edwardian period and, so far, I have four books planned which will cover 1910 to 1913. Even though this is a series, all the books can be read stand-alone.

A Rebel at Pennington’s.  The Blurb.

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Penningtons FB banner

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/d/aMjIi3K

Amazon US: http://a.co/d/dAhCQiZ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/a-rebel-at-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_A_Rebel_at_Pennington_s?id=r5RtDwAAQBAJ

Me. That sounds great, Rachel.  Another one for my To Be Read pile.  So, tell me, what inspires you most?  Characters?  Settings? Books you have read?

Rachel.  My book ideas usually start with a setting – often inspired by, not only places I visited, but also films and TV programmes. For my historical work, I often become obsessed with a period or a woman of that period and the idea grows from her journey or struggles.

Me. And how did your writing journey start?  Have you always written?  What was your first published piece?

Rachel. I’ve wanted to be a published author from a very young age and often wrote short stories as a child. When my youngest daughter started school in 2005, I was determined to start writing seriously towards publication. My first book, Searching For Sophie, was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2007. I haven’t stopped writing since and A Rebel At Pennington’s will be my twenty-first published book.

Me. Wow, that’s fantastic.  And what about your future plans?

Rachel. I have just finished the first draft of Pennington’s book 3 which focuses on women and divorce in 1911. There is also a murder thread that started in book 1 which is tied up in this book! I am excited to polish and submit this one to my editor very soon.

After that, I will be starting on a new contemporary trilogy set in New York.

Social Media Links, website etc.

https://rachelbrimble.com/

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/?hl=en

Amazon Author Page: 

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Bookbub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-brimble

Author Bio

Author pic1 - Aug 2018Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018 with book two coming February 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers from all over the world. To sign up for her quarterly and new release newsletter, click here to go to her website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

And finally….

As we start a new year, here are the daily prompts for the first couple of weeks.  Please refer to this post (Writers’ Prompts and how to use them)  for more detailed hints on how to use them.

Happy writing!

Daily Prompts.  1-15th January

1. I took a long, steadying breath.  This was the first day of the rest of my life.

2. A resolution you made – and kept. (Or, maybe, one you wished you had kept!)

3. My mother once told me….

4. Write about something you didn’t do.

5. It doesn’t matter any more. (Buddy Holly’s last song, released this day 1956)

6. Write about your mother’s hands.

7. The first house you ever remember

8. A secret message

9. There’s no fool like an old fool.

10. On this day in 1863, the first section of London’s Underground, the Metropolitan Line, opened, running from Paddington to Farringdon Street.

11. A phone is ringing but no one answers.

12. A recurring dream (or nightmare)

13. Stealing time.

14. Once upon a time, there were three little pigs (ducks/firemen/whatever!)

15. A secret you wished you’d never been told.

A short story for Christmas – and a Dalmatian called Jemima

Sleeping Dalmatian by a Christmas tree
Too much partying, too much booze, Gives you spots and makes you snooze. Jemima Christmas 2011

Well I did it! I hit ‘send’ on my second Much Winchmoor novel on the due date, so as promised in my last blog post, I’m posting this short story by way of celebration. Also, it’s a thank you to all you lovely people who have followed my blog during my stumbling journey towards and beyond publication of my debut crime novel, Murder Served Cold.

It is not a Christmas story but one I enjoyed writing very much as it features a Dalmatian called Jemima – and here’s a photograph of the dog that inspired it. She was a sweet natured, gentle dog and was very much loved.

This story is dedicated to her and all the other dogs we have been privileged to share our lives with.

Mail Order Husband

“WANTED: A Husband.  Must be young and fit with good teeth and bone structure.”

I read out what I’d just written to Jemima, who was watching me, her lovely amber eyes focussed intently on my face.  “What do you think so far?” I asked. “Is there anything else you’d like  me to say?  Good sense of humour?  Enjoys long walks in the country?”

Jemima gave one of her special smiles, then went across to the door and looked back at me impatiently.

“OK, I’ll be there in a minute,” I said.  “But I’ve got to finish this ad first.  It is, after all, for your benefit, so don’t rush me, otherwise I’ll forget the most important bit.  ‘Must have spots’. Better not leave that out, had I?”

After all, spots are pretty important to a Dalmatian – and Jemima, my two year old Dalmatian was pretty important to me.  In fact, since Simon stomped out of my life, she was the single most important thing left in it.  

Maybe, this tiny niggling voice inside my head was saying, that was the case before Simon stomped out – and maybe that was why he stomped.

That and the dog hairs, of course. They used to drive him bananas.  If he was wearing light coloured clothes, the black hairs would show while the white ones stuck like a shower of tiny barbed magnets to his smart, something-in-the-City suits.

But now Simon had gone, there was nothing stopping me letting Jemima have a litter of puppies, hence my quest to find her a husband – or in her case, a one night stand.  In fact, for Simon, that was the final straw, or do I mean dog’s hair?  He didn’t quite say ‘it’s me or the puppies’, just the usual stuff about growing apart and how it was him, not me.

I finished writing the ad, popped it in an envelope ready to put in the post box when I took Jemima out for her walk.  There were some wonderful dog walks close to where I lived and in the two years I’d had Jemima, I’d got to know and like most of the other dogs and their owners in the area.  

All, that is, except one.  The dog was the most peculiar looking creature you could imagine, with weird, angular limbs that stuck out at awkward angles when he ran.  He had huge clumsy paws, hair that looked like a worn down yard broom and a bark that could have been used as a foghorn in the English Channel.  I have no idea what his owner looked like because he was invariably a couple of fields away, bellowing at the dog to come back.

Only of course, the dog never did.  If that dog had been human, he’d have had an asbo slapped on him ages ago.  He was a nightmare.

As I crossed the stile into the next field, there ahead of me, was Asbo Dog who took one look at me and Jemima and ran towards us, no doubt trying to warn us there was a giant oil tanker bearing down on our starboard side.

I did what I always did when I heard him.  I turned, went back over the stile and into another field, calling Jemima to follow me as I did so.

But she didn’t.  Instead, for the first time in her life, instead of coming when she was called, she took off across the field towards him, like Cathy and Heathcliff on the Yorkshire moors.

“Jemima.  Come back now.” I yelled, but it was no good.  The two of them streaked through the hedge and out of sight, leaving me to run as fast as I could after them.

“Was that your dog chasing mine?” a young man with wild hair and anxious brown eyes asked me.

“My dog chase yours?” I stopped to get my breath and realised I was talking to the owner of Asbo-Dog.  “Let me tell you, Mr -?”

“Nick.  My name’s Nick.”

“Well, Nick, your dog is the worst, the most out of control dog I’ve ever met. Have you never heard of training classes?”

Nick pushed his fingers through his hair, making it wilder than ever. “I tried – but he got expelled.  Untrainable, she said.”

“Nonsense.  You should have found another class.  No dog is untrainable, you know, just their owners.”

“And what would they teach me?” he said, his mouth twitching like he was trying to hide a smile.

“To get your dog to come when it’s called, for a start,” I said, realising too late I’d  walked into his trap.

“Like – what was it you called her?  Jemima?”

“Yeah, all right.” I couldn’t help laughing but it soon faded.  “Seriously though, we ought to find them.  I don’t know about yours, but mine’s got the road sense of a paper bag.  And if they should get as far as the main road –”

“Good point.  Mine usually sticks to the fields, but it looks like your Jemima has turned his head well and truly today.  Who knows what might be going on in that pea brain of his.  I’ll try calling him again.  Dolly!  Come here boy.”

“Dolly?”  We were half way across the second field by now but I stopped and turned to stare at him.  “You have a great bruiser of a dog who’s built like a tank, looks like a giant bottlebrush and has a bark like a fog horn – and you call him Dolly?”

Nick shrugged.  “I don’t know much about dogs but the name suits him when you get to know him.”

I stopped myself in time from saying I didn’t think I wanted to get to know Dolly and I certainly didn’t want any of his bad habits rubbing off on Jemima.

“He was a rescue dog,” Nick went on.  “My girlfriend bought him, said she couldn’t resist his cute face.  She knew even less about dogs than I do, but we could see he was a right old mixture of breeds, so we thought it would be very clever to call him Dolly.  For Dolly Mixtures?  We thought he was a she, you see.”

“Obviously,” I said.  “But even when they’re little puppies, it’s fairly easy to tell little boy dogs from little girls.”

“I did say we didn’t know much about dogs,” he said with a rueful grin.  “And by the time we discovered out mistake, the name had stuck.  Unfortunately, at about the same time, my girlfriend realised she’d made another kind of mistake and that she wasn’t really a dog person, or, when she stopped to think about it, a me person, so she walked out, leaving me and Dolly to rub along without her.”

By this time we’d covered most of the field and I was beginning to get seriously worried about Jemima.

“She’s never run off before,” I said, my throat feeling quite sore from calling for her.

“I’m afraid Dolly does it to me most days,” Nick said.  “I live in the cottage at the end of Henley Lane and by the time I get back, he’s there, waiting for me, a big silly grin on his face like he’s saying ‘what kept you?’  Hey, come on, they’ll be fine, you’ll see.”

But by the time we trudged back to his cottage, there was no great overgrown bottlebrush of a dog waiting on the doorstep with a big silly grin.  No sign of Jemima either.

I was seriously worried and ready to burst into tears.  “If anything’s happened to her, I’ll never forgive myself,” I said as I tried but failed to imagine life without my stupid, scatterbrain, intensely affectionate dog who would wrinkle her lips back in a smile – and steal the food off the table the second my back was turned.

“Look, why don’t you come in and have a coffee or something?” Nick asked.  “You look all in.”

“No, I must keep looking.” 

“Just a quick coffee – and I’ve got some very nice chocolate biscuits. Come on round the back.  It’s easier -“

He stopped so suddenly that I bumped into him on the narrow path that led around the side of his cottage.  To one side of the cottage was an old lean to that Nick obviously used as a log store.

And there, cosied up together like Brad and Angelina was Jemima and Dolly.  He was looking like the cat who got the cream while she looked like she’d not only got the cream but the champagne and chocolates as well.

I went to get her lead from my pocket when I felt something crackle. I pulled it out.  It was the envelope I’d forgotten to post.

“You’re all right,” Nick said.  “There’s a post box just outside the cottage.”

“I think it’s a bit late for that,” I said.

He shook his head.  “No, I don’t think it’s been collected yet.  Do you want me to -?”

I shook my head and laughed.  “I meant it’s probably too late as far as Jemima’s concerned.  This is an advert for a husband for her.  I was trying to find another Dalmatian, you see.  Only it looks very much like Jemima had her own ideas when it came to finding a mate.”

“Oh Lord, I am sorry,” Nick said.  “But don’t I remember hearing somewhere that there are injections dogs can have, sort of like the morning after pill?”

I looked at Jemima, still cosied up to Dolly.  And I looked at Dolly with his sweet trusting face and friendly eyes.  And do you know, he was quite a handsome looking dog, after all.  The sort that grew on you.  Very much like his owner, come to think of it.

“Oh I don’t know,” I said, “Goodness only knows what the puppies will be like.  We’ve probably invented a new breed.  We can call them –”

“Dolly-dallies.”

We both said it together, proving what I was coming to suspect.  That Nick and I had as much in common as our dogs. 

THE END

Now, all that remains is to wish you all a happy Christmas and a hope that 2019 brings you everything you wish for. xxx


Where does crime writer, Joan Livingston, get her ideas from? Plus Daily Prompts 16-31 December

Joan has recently appeared in my column in the UK magazine, Writers’ Forum where, as always I am pushed for space.  But here, I can ask as many questions as I like without the strait-jacket of a word count. 

I am thrilled to feature crime writer Joan Livingston on my blog this week.  I have read and really enjoyed both books in Joan’s Isabel Long series and am eagerly looking forward to the next which she tells me is due out early in 2019.

Me.

Welcome to my blog, Joan and thank you for dropping by.  So, where did you get the idea for your Isabel Long series from?

Joan.

Prior to starting the Isabel Long series, I never thought about writing a mystery. My previous books were literary fiction, but I was inspired after reading one an author friend wrote. When I thought about it, my life has been immersed in mystery. Since I was a kid, I’ve read mysteries and watched suspenseful shows and movies. I enjoy figuring out whodunit and being surprised by a plot twist.

And before I was a fiction writer, I was a journalist. Often, I had to piece together a story using clues and sources. Certainly, as my protagonist, Isabel Long, learned, these are transferable skills.

So, I sat at my computer and began writing Chasing the Case. I didn’t use outlines, notes, or programs. The story came from “somewhere” and I was the conduit. As the words flowed, I learned three things: the amateur P.I. would be a woman; her cases could be related to her former career as a journalist; the setting would be rural Western Massachusetts (US).

How does a woman disappear in a town of a thousand people? That’s a 28-year-old mystery Isabel Long wants to solve

Me.What inspires you most?  Characters?  Settings? 

Joan.

Isabel is what the French call une femme d’un certain age. She’s been a widow for a year and has an adult romance. She’s a bit of a smart-ass, so I let her tell the story. (I admit there’s a bit of me in her.) Her sidekick is her 92-year-old mother who came to live with her — my 95-year-old mom is her inspiration. Strong characters I’ve created move this series along.As a writer, I take what I know and have my way with it. I use a rural setting because I’ve lived many years in small towns (a thousand people or so) and understand what they are like. As a reporter, I covered them. 

Me. How did your writing journey start? 

Joan.

I was fortunate to have great teachers when I went to public school as a child. My fourth-grade teacher encouraged me to write short plays and have my classmates perform them. In fifth grade, I was part of a group chosen for an enrichment program — Wednesday afternoons we would gather at a school for advanced science and creative writing classes. The science was okay, but I was hooked by the creative writing, learning about metaphors and similes at such a young age. I recently found the little pieces I wrote and found them charming.

I should also say I was a big reader, thanks to my mother, who took us to the library twice a week.

I had a bit of a drought until I went to college, where I got into poetry in a heavy way, publishing and doing public readings. I fancied myself a poet. 

I recall my creative writing professor telling me something that has continued to stick with me: Tell it like nobody has told it before. 

Me: Have you always written? 

Joan.

I will confess that I had a 25-year writer’s block. It coincides with motherhood when my creativity naturally went into raising six children. I had given up on poetry. And I found to my dismay, I couldn’t sustain a thought in prose although I wanted to be a writer.

My situation began to change when I became a part-time correspondent for the local newspaper, where I was paid by the inch to cover news and features in the small hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. Besides being immersed in the hilltowns — the source of inspiration for my fiction these days — I learned to write unadorned prose. I also listened to the way people talked and behaved, which I believe has been beneficial to writing realistic fiction. I also enjoyed people’s responses to what I reported and wrote.

But the 25-year writer’s block didn’t really break until I was promoted to editor. The job had more responsibility, but it didn’t drain my creative juices. Suddenly, I found it was a rare day when I wasn’t writing fiction. It was part of who I am. That is true today. Writing is my form of expression, one that brings me great happiness.

Ah, but publishing is another thing all together. I’m sure I could swap war stories with other authors about that.

The books’ blurbs

CHASING THE CASE

New to the game. But that won’t stop her.

How does a woman disappear in a town of a thousand people? That’s a 28-year-old mystery Isabel Long wants to solve. 

Isabel has the time to investigate. She just lost her husband and her job as the managing editor of a newspaper. (Yes, it’s been a bad year.) And she’s got a Watson — her 92-year-old mother who lives with her. 

To help her case, Isabel takes a job at the local watering hole, so she can get up close and personal with those connected to the mystery. 

As a journalist, Isabel never lost a story she chased. Now, as an amateur P.I., she’s not about to lose this case.

REDNECK’S REVENGE

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case. 

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over, but no surprise there. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband. 

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

Me. Do you have any future plans?


Once I finished the first book, I was onto the second — Her next case. She’s in it for good. — then the third. I will stick with the series as long as I am interested in the exploits of Isabel Long and the cases she takes.

But to be clear, the plots for Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, and the 2019 release, Checking the Traps, are not based on anything that happened. The same is true for my characters. They are only real to me and I’m glad many of them can join me for more than one book.

Me

Thank you so much for stopping by, Joan.  That was brilliant.  And I can’t wait to find out what Isabel and her mother are up to next so I’m really looking forward to Checking The Traps..


Book Links

Chasing the Case.  https://mybook.to/chasingthecase

Redneck’s Revenge. https://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

Coming next on this blog

Next week is an important one,  Friday 21st December has been written in big red letter in my calendar and on my wall chart for months now.  It is DEADLINE DAY.

I think my second book, which will (probably) be called Rough and Deadly, will be ready in time for submission to my publishers.  But every time I look at it I find another plot hole, another end that I haven’t sewn in!

To celebrate finally hitting the send button on it, I’ll be posting a short story on my blog.  It’s one of my all time favourites because it features a Dalmatian and, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know I am absolutely dotty about Dalmatians.  This one is called Jemima.  Unlike the real Jemima the one in my story is beautifully behaved – until she comes up against a hooligan boy dog with the unlikely name of Dolly.

……..

Daily Prompts.  16th – 31st December

Please refer to this post for advice on how to use these.

16. Things I never told my mother

17. An abandoned pet (dog, cat, your choice)

18. The mellow tones of a saxophone drifting in through the window

19. “I could murder a cup of tea,” Aunt Mildred said seconds before she died.

20. You’ve planned a quiet, romantic Christmas dinner for just the two of you.  Then, you discover on Christmas Eve that your partner has invited the in-laws/the rugby team/the guy from the pub who after a couple of pints of Guiness sings Danny Boy over and over again.

21. It was Sunday morning. (Or Deadline Day!!! See above)

22. In a cemetery

23. The overnight snow had transformed everything.

24. If I could turn the clock back, I’d…. (Write about something you’d do differently)

25. A time someone lost control

26. She was the kind of woman who….

27. You’re stuck in a traffic jam, going nowhere.  The road is closed and you’re late for the most important meeting of your life.

28. I have this terrible weakness for…..

29. Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods.  Cats have never forgotten this.

30. Write about your special song.

31. Knocking on heaven’s door (song title)

Where does romance writer Lynne Shelby get her ideas from?

In this post I’m welcoming the second writer who appears in my Ideas Store column in the current issue (January 2019) of Writers’ Forum, along with Rosie Travers whom I featured in the previous post. 

Where does romance writer Lynne Shelby get her ideas from?

the one that i want

I’m delighted to welcome on my blog this week romance writer Lynne Shelby, whose book, “The One That I Want” (I can’t help going all Olivia Newton John when I see that title!) I read and enjoyed recently.

So I asked Lynne the same question I ask everyone I meet (with the exception of my dentist): Where did you get that idea from?  And she very kindly answered, together with a load of other questions.

 

 

 

Me 

Hi Lynne, thank you so much for appearing on my blog, and for answering the question that every writer is said to dread.  So, where did you get the idea from for “The One That I want”?

Lynne

I love going to the cinema or the theatre, especially to see a West End musical. Not that I ever thought about becoming a professional actress myself (I always wanted to be an author!), but I seem to be surrounded by relatives and friends who work in showbusiness, either as actors or dancers, or behind the camera as film-makers, make-up artists or casting directors, and I find the world of film and theatre fascinating.

My chance to find out exactly what goes into the making of a film or a play first came when my now adult children were young and my eldest daughter was chosen as one of the ‘babes’ in the juvenile chorus of a local pantomime. This was the beginning of my becoming a ‘stage mother’ – although I hope I managed to avoid turning into the pushy stereotype! I loved standing in the wings of a theatre while my kids performed on stage, or watching from the side of a film set while a scene was shot, and I also got an insight into what it’s like to be an actor, going to auditions and then waiting apprehensively for the call from your agent telling you whether or not you’ve got the role. 

I knew for a long time that I wanted to write a novel set in the world of theatre and film but the plot of The One That I Want came to me when I was in a shop in London’s Piccadilly Circus, and spotted a famous Hollywood actor travelling down an escalator, his progress marked by excited members of the public taking his photo on their mobile phones. It struck me how it odd it must be to have your every move recorded on camera by total strangers. From this, came the idea for a story about a girl who is suddenly swept up into a celebrity lifestyle when she dates an A-List film star.

I had a glimpse of what it’s like to be a celebrity when a friend who works in the film industry was unable to go to a film premier in Leicester Square and gave me their tickets. I have to admit that walking along the red carpet between cheering crowds and flashing cameras was super-exciting (even if they weren’t actually photographing me and my husband, but the well-known actors who were walking along the carpet several yards in front!), but for my characters, walking along a red carpet is just part of their job. I hope that The One That I Want, as well as being a romance, will give readers an authentic sense of what showbusiness is like behind the glamour and the glitz.

Me

Thanks, Lynne.  That’s great.  So, to questions about your writing life in general.  What inspires you most?  Characters?  Settings?  Books you have read?

Lynne

It’s the characters in my books that most inspire me to write. When I start writing a new novel, I know the beginning and the end, but have very little idea of the middle part of the story. I do know my heroine and hero very well though, so I introduce them to each other and see what happens!

Me

Tell us a bit about your writing journey.

Lynne

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories, and I first submitted a ms to a publisher when I was fourteen (they didn’t publish it, but were very encouraging about my writing). My first published novel was French Kissing, a contemporary romance in which two childhood pen friends, one French and one English, meet as adults when friendship could develop into something more. This book won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and the prize was for the book to be published.

Me

Congratulations!  What a great prize.  And what are your future plans?

Lynne

The second novel in my ‘linked series’ of books set in London’s Theatreland, There She Goes, is to be published in June 2019, and a third novel, Take A Chance On Me, in 2020.  I’m currently working on a book with an archaeologist hero – I’ve had a lot of fun researching this.

Me

Thank you so much, Lynne.  That was great.  I enjoyed The One That I Want so will be looking out for those.

Social Media Links, website etc.

Website: www.lynneshelby.com 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter 

Twitter: @LynneB1 

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

Buy link for The One That I Want:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-That-Want-beautiful-winning-ebook/dp/B07D2FGCX1/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542745441&sr=1-1&keywords=the+one+that+i+want+lynne+shelby 

Author Bio 

Lynne ShelbyLynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, ‘French Kissing’ won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and her latest novel, The One That I Want, is the first of a series of stand-alone books set in the world of theatre and film. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Reykjavik – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

Where does author Rosie Travers get her ideas from?

On my blog this week, I’m delighted to share with you an interview with author Rosie Travers who appeared in my Ideas Store column in the December issue of Writers’ Forum.

Ideas Store. Issue 206. December

IMG_3510In the current issue of Writers’ Forum,  (Issue 206, December 2018) my column, Ideas Store features two authors whose books I have recently read and enjoyed.  They are “Theatre of Dreams” by Rosie Travers and “The One That I Want” by Lynne Shelby

Because I’m always pushed for space in my column, I’m only able to use a small part of the interview I did with these writers.  But here, on my blog I can  bring you the interviews in full.  

This week I’m focussing on romantic novelist, Rosie Travers and hope to bring you Lynne Shelby’s interview next week.

Rosie Travers

Me 

Hi Rosie, and welcome to my blog.  So, where did you get the idea for your debut novel, Theatre of Dreams?

Rosie

In my debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, a devious octogenarian recruits a disgraced actress and a bankrupt architect to play a part in an elaborate plot to save a historic seaside pavilion from demolition. The idea was partly inspired by a building – the Lee Tower entertainment complex in Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire. The Lee Tower was built in 1935 and demolished just 40 years later by the local council. When I learned about the existence of this vast art deco pavilion in what is a small, sleepy coastal town my imagination was well and truly captured.  I wondered why the complex hadn’t been preserved for future generations and decided to re-write history. I already had the character of a veteran performer with a somewhat chequered past in my head and now I’d found her a purpose – saving her family’s seaside theatre.

Me

What is your genre?  Is it a series or standalone?

Rosie

I like to think of my writing as feel-good fiction. The Theatre of Dreams covers many themes – friendship, family loyalty, ambition, as well as containing a family tragedy, an unsolved mystery and a romance – it’s hard to put it into one box. It is a standalone story although I haven’t discounted the idea of a spin-off in the future!

The blurb

Book 2.jpg
The stunning cover of Theatre of Dreams!

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. When terminally-ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent. Too late, Tara realizes helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished career, unless she can pull off the performance of a lifetime.

Me

It’s a lovely book and I really enjoyed reading it.  So tell me, what inspires you and how do you plan your book?  

Rosie

IMG_0076 (1).JPG
Rosie Travers

I tend to start with characters. I am a pantser not a plotter so once I have come up with a character I play around with various scenarios until I find one which works. The planning comes later and once the characters start telling their own stories, they don’t always stick to my plan at all. The Theatre of Dreams ‘evolved’ with plot twists and back stories way beyond my original idea but that’s how I like to write. 

Me:

And how did you writing journey start?  

Rosie

I scribbled numerous stories as a teenager but didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties, when I gave up working to accompany my husband overseas. My first published piece was a short story in a local magazine.

Me  

Thanks, Rosie, That was great.  So, finally, what are your future plans?  I’d really love to read more from you.

Rosie

My second book, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, a romantic suspense set on the south coast, will be published by Crooked Cat in 2019.  

Author Bio and social media links

I grew up on the south coast of England and after initially training as a secretary I juggled a career in local government with raising my family.  I moved to Southern California with my husband in 2009 and began a blog about life as an ex-pat wife which re-kindled a teenage desire to become a writer. On my return to the UK I took a part-time creative writing course and following some success in short story competitions, I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme. My debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was published in August 2018 by Crooked Cat Books.

Buying link: https://mybook.to/theatreofdreams

https://www.rosietravers.com

Twitter: @rosietravers

https://www.facebook.com/rosietraversauthor/

Instagram: @rosietraversauthor

https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/rosie-travers/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk,/rosie9257/

Daily Prompts.  December 1st to 15th

1. Write about a particularly evocative scent.

2. Broken promises

3. “If only I hadn’t….”

4. Write about something that makes you go hot with embarrassment.

5. Catch a falling star.

6. Opening line.  It was at 6.45am on Monday 21st December that I decided to kill…. (You choose)

7. An invitation refused

8. It’s later than you think.

9. “A sad tale’s best for winter.  I have one of sprites and goblins”. Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

10. Write about a time you gave in to temptation and stole something.  Truth or fiction!

11. At the other end of the street.

12. “The frost performs its secret ministry/Unhelped by any wind.” ST Coleridge, Frost at Midnight. 

13. Passing time.

14. An overheard remark.

15. You’re in a supermarket and you realise someone is following your every move.

My first blog tour, self doubt and a very special anniversary

Confessions of a Rubbish Book Marketer.

IMG_3505

These last few weeks have been pretty manic as I juggle the demands of marketing Murder Served Cold (link to my book here) with the equally urgent demands of finishing off its sequel, provisionally entitled Rough and Deadly in order to meet a December deadline that’s galloping towards me faster than the January sales.

I’m used to writing to deadlines, having written a monthly column in Writers Forum for the last eleven years (although the editor would probably confirm I’m one of those contributors who make the deadline by the skin of their teeth each month).  

But writing a novel to a deadline is a very different matter.

But even so, that’s something I am far more comfortable with than the other thing that’s been demanding my attention like an over-indulged two year old since way before my book launch in October.

The. Dreaded. Marketing!

 

My Big Scary Blog Tour

One of the first things I did was to sign up for a blog tour. (But even that, I left a bit late and the blog tour took place several weeks after my launch date.)

 I chose Rachel’s Random Resources because I’d heard some very good things about Rachel from my fellow authors at Crooked Cat books.

What Rachel (and others like her) does is gather together a number of book reviewers who will, in exchange for a review copy of the book, read it and, hopefully, review it.  (although they are under no obligation to do so) on such places as Amazon, Goodreads etc.  Reviews are of vital importance to an author as they do so much to improve a book’s ‘findability’. (Have I just made that word up?)

Until my book was published, nobody had read it except my publisher and my editor.  Even my husband hadn’t read it.  And, to be honest, I don’t know which was most terrifying – the thought of people I know reading it or people I don’t know reading it.

Now, I ‘m not a stranger to writing.  I’ve had over 400 short stories and serials published in various magazines both in the UK and overseas.  But the thing about writing for a magazine is that you only (!) have to please one person – the editor.  Either he/she likes it, in which case you have a sale.  Or he/she doesn’t and it’s back to the drawing board.  As for the readers, if they don’t like what you’ve written, they can move on to something else within the magazine. So it’s not a complete waste of money for them.

Over the years I’d got used to this way of working.  I have even, in that time, had some very positive feedback from readers, which is pretty rare in the world of magazine writing – or at least it was for me. (Do let me know if you’re one of those lucky writers who have loads of positive feedback all the time.  I’ll probably be insanely jealous but I’ll give you a name check!)

Leaving the comfort zone

I am, like many writers, an introvert.  It takes a lot to persuade me out of my comfort zone and I don’t mind admitting I’ve found the whole process of bringing a book out both terrifying and exhausting.  Each day the learning curve appears steeper.

But none more so than the start of my blog tour.

Murder Served Cold Full Tour Banner

It lasted a week and I could hardly sleep the night before, for fear of what the reviewers were going to say about it.  I’ve heard about far, far better writers than me getting 1 or 2 star reviews and having to deal with the crippling effects these can have on a writer’s confidence.

But I didn’t have any self confidence to start with, so I was pretty sure that a bad review would mean the end of my career as a writer of crime novels.  I know many writers suffer, as I do, from what’s known as ‘imposter’ syndrome, the belief that you’re not as good as everyone else and it’s only a matter of time before you get found out.

So I was taking a pretty big gamble with this blog tour.  But then again, if I didn’t do it, then only a handful of people were going to hear about my book and this would make my publisher (and me) very sad.

The results are in…..

But I’m glad to say the reviews were good. I’m sure part of is thanks to Rachel’s skill in selecting reviewers who will probably enjoy books written in my genre. 

In fact, the reviews were much better than I dared hope.  Shall I put them on here?  Probably not because although my lovely mum (to whom my book has been dedicated) has been dead a long, long time she still murmurs in my ear every now and again and is even now telling me not to ‘show off’. (She wasn’t that impressed with Murder Served Cold either and told me I was ‘no Agatha Christie’)

But having said that, if she was still around, she’d have been that proud of me people would have crossed the road to avoid having to listen to her banging on about it! (Even though I’m no Agatha Christie).

But sadly, showing off is what book marketing is all about – which is why I’m not very good at it.  But this is where the value, to me, of this blog tour came in.

I’m not sure if Rachel and her reviewers have any notion of how their kind words (Rachel was brilliant and very reassuring every time I started panicking!) saved this fledging new career of mine.  Every day of the tour, with each good review  I grew a little in confidence until by the end of the week I began to believe that I might just have written a book that people might actually want to read.

It’s a really big deal when someone buys my book and I feel the responsibility keenly.   I want to give each and every one a hug.  Unlike a magazine, the reader’s money is totally wasted if they don’t like my work. It’s not like they can flip over to the recipe section to find something they do like as they can in a magazine.  But it’s not just money they’ve wasted.  It’s the time they’ve invested in reading my book.  That’s an awesome responsibility.

So to all those readers who took a chance on this unknown (to them) author, a big thank you.  And to those lovely readers who leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads etc, an even bigger thank you.  

And for my next meltdown…..

I’m now going through yet another crisis of confidence as I am getting close to finishing the second book in the series.  Writers thrive on the question ‘what if?” Asking and answering it can lead to many a good twist and turn.  But sometimes those two little words can work against you.

What if….

What if Murder Served Cold a fluke?  Am I about to get found out after all?

But that’s a blog for another time.  I started writing Rough and Deadly (provisional title) on a high.  It was great meeting up with the characters from Murder Served Cold (those who hadn’t been murdered of course) and I couldn’t wait to see where they would take me this time.

But then came the doubts.  The what ifs….  What if I can’t do it again?  What if I’m one of those people who can only write one book?  What if….

Dalmatians.  A special anniversary

This week sees us celebrating a very special anniversary.  It’s exactly a year since we collected our rescue Dalmatian, Duke, from BDW,  British Dalmatian Welfare via a wonderful couple who fostered him while he was between homes and saved his poor damaged tail. (Thanks, Cass and Geoff!)

When you register with BDW, you are asked to fill in a wish list of the sort of dog you would like.

Our wish list went like this.

  1. Girl dog.
  2. Good with children.
  3. Doesn’t chase cats.
  4. Good with other dogs.

Duke is:

  1. A boy dog.  (Although a bit less of a boy dog than when we first had him).
  2. He was not very good with children, but is getting better as he gets to know the grandchildren (who are all very patient and gentle with him)
  3. Very bad with cats and as one of my sons has three cats, this has led to some very expensive dog boarding bills when we go to visit.
  4. Not at all good with other dogs. Particularly since he got beaten up by a Bull Mastiff and now is now firmly in the ‘Get in first’ camp.

BUT

  • He makes us laugh.  Every day.  (Except when he’s indulged in 2, 3 or 4 above.  Or stolen food. Or rolled in fox poo.  Or… I could go on but it would be a very long list.)
  • He makes us walk.  Every day.  (This is not always a plus)
  • We have poo bags and dog treats  in every bag and pocket.

AND

  • We love him very much.  He has enriched our lives in ways that cannot be measured.

 

My next post

I’ll be talking to author Rosie Travers and asking her where she got the idea for her book “Theatre of Dreams” from.  I will also post the Daily Prompts for 1st to December 15th.