This weeks Author Blog Challenge is ‘The Best Holiday I Ever Had’. I’ve been thinking about this and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one holiday. So I’ve decided to highlight my favourite holidays and why, from childhood to my first holiday as a gran.
Holidays weren’t a big feature of my childhood but one that stands out is a holiday in Cornwall in the late sixties, when we stayed in St Agnes Bay and Penzance. I remember making a friend at the holiday camp we stayed at and eating butterscotch, we had a photo at Lands End and my parents bought me the cute cat ornament, which I still have today. Other holidays were in Bournemouth and there were always day trips to Mablethorpe on the east coast of England.
Camping holidays with youth club are the standout memories from my teenage holidays. Camping is not really me, the ground is too hard and I always get cold and dislike sharing my tent with a variety of insects. Nevertheless I always enjoyed these trips, especially the one where I got to know my future husband, we celebrate thirty three years of marriage today, so that was definitely a holiday worth going on.
My honeymoon should be my standout holiday of my twenties and it was lovely. Cornwall again, we went to Newquay, sun sea and lots of lovely memories. I visited a vintage kitchen shop in Penzance and bought some glass storage jars with cork lids and I still have them thirty three years later obviously a good buy!
I was first introduced to The English Lake District in my mid twenties and the scenery and beautiful lakes are still a favourite holiday destination of mine. So much so there are the inspiration for my first book The Dragon Legacy.
Brighton was the destination of my last twenties holiday with my lovely daughter 8 months old – Such a lovely time .
Holidays with my children
These were certainly fun. Bournemouth and Devon were favourite destinations. We even stayed in the prestigious Sandbanks. Woolacombe was another favourite, great for kids and dogs.
We also had a few holidays in Europe during this time. A camping trip to France’s Verdun region , turned out to be short-lived , after only four days we had to home as my mother was seriously ill. Holidays in The Costa Dorada in Spain and Lake Garde in Italy were more successful, although we did manage to get lost both times driving from the airport, not the best start to a holiday but the rest of it was full of great memories, as you can see from the photos. My trip to Lake Garde inspired the setting for my second book ‘The Revenge Masquerade’.
Regular blog readers will know I love Northumberland, I first visited in 2014 and went again this year with my new grandson Arthur. The weather wasn’t fantastic but we still had a good time.
I’m hoping my next holiday in Woolacombe in September will be full of good memories too. I’m really looking forward to holidaying with my kids and little grandson and Jazz and Oby of course. We’re staying close to the wonderful child and dog friendly beach so look out for more blogs on this in September.
So that’s a whistle stop tour of my holiday memories. Share your holiday memories with me in the comments below or on #LifeBooksWriting
So it’s two posts in one this week from me. Last week I was involved in the Harper Impulse Readathon- #SummerImpulse, which left me no time to write the ‘In 5 years… Author Blog Challenge post. So I’ve combined it with this week’s- ‘My Latest Book’ and a snippet from my work in progress. Yes I know. I’m two days late but the weeks have been so busy lately, with Family and a new project, which I will be sharing with you in the next few months, not writing related but still very exciting. Now back to the Author Blog Challenge.
Still be writing books that people want to read…
Manage to write consistently, so I can write four books a year.
Still be blogging and keep adding followers to my blog because they like what I write.
Be living in a house with a view.
And most importantly to be healthy and happy.
My latest published book was released in February this year by Limitless Publishing and is a romantic mystery thriller set in Texas called The Dangerous Gift. This was my first book I’d written in this genre and I loved writing it. Written as a standalone read, the publishers wanted me to write another, so I am currently writing book 2 – currently titled Hazardous Knowledge’, which will be set mainly in the UK.
“Jen, don’t do this. Not here.” Jared ran his fingers through his short-cropped hair.
Jennie looked around her, aware they were the focus of avid interest. “Let’s go someplace else. I need some space and privacy.”
Jared took a breath. “I can’t abandon everyone again. This will have to wait until after the wake.” He leapt up and covered Jennie’s hands with his own much-larger one. “If you read the note, it must have scared you. I’ll find out who sent it and make them sorry they did.”
“I did read it. I wanted to show it to you—” Jennie gulped and brushed tears from her cheeks, “—before I saw you kissing what’s-her-name…Darleen. Someone must know about Annie and Ralf’s will. Otherwise, why threaten me?”
“It looks that way. Leave it to me, Jen. I’ll sort it,” Jared said in harsh, hushed tones. “In case you’re interested, Darleen kissed me, not the other way round. I couldn’t push her away. It would have hurt her feelings.”
“You managed it with me.” Jennie turned away, her survival instincts kicking in. She must escape from Jared before she made a fool of herself. “I need some water.”
“Fine. Sit down. I’ll fetch you some.” Jared pointed her in the direction of the swing seat and walked into the crowd of mourners.
Jennie immediately regretted her emotional outburst. What chance did she have with Jared if he was already seeing someone else? She leaned back into the comfy seat and closed her eyes, searching for calm in her troubled mind.’
Past Shadows is the latest book I have completed, this is a Regency historical romance with a ghostly twist. I am still searching for the right publisher for this unusual story or I may self- publish. Here’s an excerpt…
Past Shadows -Chapter 3
“I’m sorry if I make you nervous Mrs. Osborne,” Justin’s arctic smile made a mockery of his apology.
Lucy brazened it out. “Why would you make me nervous Mr. Bracken?” Her expression tinged with boredom, as she smoothed non-existent creases from her dark blue muslin gown.
“Your body betrays you m’dear.” Justin stared at her hands, which still trembled despite her conscious effort to still them. “So if I agreed to abandon my search for the fire setter and agreed to work towards better working conditions for my workforce, what would you give me in return?”
Lucy’s gaze clashed with his, this man was full of surprises. “Why would you do that? To prove how different you are from your father, what could I offer you to compensate such generosity?”
“You…” Justin’s heated stare seared her body from the ends of her hair to the tips of her toes, now curling in her satin slippers.
Lucy ignored the message implicit in his regard and responded to the literal meaning of his words. “Of course, I will help you but why now, when you believe me guilty of treachery?” She spoke quickly, desperate to end his visual onslaught on her aroused body.
“No. I think you misunderstand me Madam, deliberately perhaps? Make no mistake, I want you, your body to be precise, for my exclusive use for as long as I desire,” he paused to allow the full import of his words to register.
Lucy gasped and fell back against the chair, a distant part of her shocked mind was grateful for its plush softness. “You’re offering me carte blanche, even though you know I’m a respectable widow and your vicar’s daughter, how reprehensible of you.”
“Indeed but you may enjoy it more than you believe. Shall I prove it to you perhaps?” Justin closed the distance between them in one stride, pushing the tea table aside, heedless of the juddering china and the tea splashing, onto the white lawn cloth.
Lucy clenched her hands tightly in her lap and met his amused look. Her apparent nonchalance disappeared with alacrity, as he squatted down and enveloped her tiny hands in his calloused ones. Her mind registered surprise; his hands were hard and obviously work roughened. Perhaps he wasn’t just the rich man’s son; he appeared to be on first acquaintance. She couldn’t suppress the shudder, as the warmth from his hands flooded into her where they touched. She wanted to see if he felt the same. Their gazes clashed; his darkened to an inky, midnight blue. Arousal her mind suggested, remembering how her sweet husband’s eyes darkened when he kissed her, so long ago now…She drew in a shaky breath, out of her depth, mesmerized by the intent in his stare. He would kiss her, before she took her next breath if she didn’t move, scream, anything to dispel this intimacy between them.’
This week’s Author Blog Challenge is ‘My Publishing Journey’. I’m a writer. I like words, so I looked up the definitions of journey and a couple of them really resonated with me.
This is so true of my publishing journey. Firstly I was in my early fifties when my first book was published. I’d enjoyed writing since I was in my late teens but my writing journey stopped and started so many times. Some would say I just wasn’t dedicated enough and that’s true. Writing is a guilty pleasure for me. Something that’s profoundly personal. I’m not good at putting myself at the top of the list, there are so many other people that I consider more important. Looking after my family and earning a living were my focus for many years and writing was something I did when I could find a few minutes.
Secondly, even though I now have three books published, I know I am only at the beginning of my journey and I just hope I have enough years left to establish myself in the writing world. I have no illusions of best seller success but I do want to write books lots of people like reading.
I am a novice writer I still have so much to learn. I have recently been told by a couple of publishers that I have a’real’ talent as a writer but that I need to work on my grammar and punctuation. This has always been a blind spot for me and one that I wonder if I can master this late in life but who knows?
My publishing journey has been a learning experience, after the initial euphoria of becoming a published author , I realised the work was just beginning. Can you write another book? Is it as good or better than the first one? Can you make your potential readers love your books as much as you do?
My first book inspired by the Lakes
My publishing journey to date is relatively short. The Dragon Legacy, my first book published December 2013. The Dangerous Gift, my third book published February 2016. Book number 4 Past Shadows is yet to be published. I have been asked to revise and resubmit by one publisher so I may do that. Whatever happens you’ll be the first to know.
This week’s topic is ‘music I love’ and ‘book playlists’. Playlists are popular with writers now but in the four books I’ve written, I only made a playlist for one of them.
Perhaps this is because I’ve never really understood whether a playlist is supposed to reflect the characters and the plot of the book? Or just what the writer listens to whilst writing? What do you think?
I don’t usually listen to music when I’m writing, but when I wrote The Dangerous Gift, I did and the playlist below is the result.
These were songs I listened to whilst wrote the final draft of The Dangerous Gift, I loved the US series Nashville and so that’s why over half of the songs are from the series. Since The Dangerous Gift is a Western Romantic Suspense, it put me in the right mind set, even though my story is set in Texas and not Nashville.
The other songs are longtime favourites of mine. I first listened to The Eagles when I started going out with my husband in 1980. ‘Take It Easy’, always manages to send me back in time , to a Bronze Ford Capri, with an an Eight Track Player. The days were full of sunshine and love. When times are hard, this song always makes me feel good and remember why thirty six years later we are still together.
The Roxy Music songs have similar poignant memories, so I listen to them frequently. Jimmy Nail’s ‘Cowboy Dreams’ and ‘What Kind of Man Am I’, fitted in with how Jared felt at times in the story and Savage Garden’s ‘ Truly, Madly, Deeply’ epitomises the love between Jennie and Jared.
If you haven’t read The Dangerous Gift, it’s available on Amazon and Free for Amazon Unlimited members.
My family definitely believe I’m a collector. I’m not particularly materialistic but I do become attached to my things and find it difficult to get rid of them, even when they’re old and past it.
I’ve never outgrown my love of soft, cuddly toys. I had a vast collection when I was a child, some of which are just about in existence, in a bag in the loft. Every time we move house they appear and my husband says, “shall we get rid of these?” I open up the bag and look at the contents and the memories come flooding back and I can’t bear to throw them away.
I also have a collection of soft toys that my husband and children have bought me over the years, some of these are still on display in my bedroom, they’re like old friends. 🙂
My daughter and to a lesser extent my son, loved ‘Beanie Babies’, a popular collectible in the ‘nineties’. Needless to say I couldn’t part with these either and they are in bags in various storage areas in the house. Maybe my grandson will like them, when he’s old enough?
I love reading and so books are definitely something I like to collect, although it’s rare that I read them more than once. This resulted in numerous bookcases. Then a few years ago. I discovered Kindle and now 99% of my books are eBooks. I still collect and read prolifically but it takes less space, which is fortunate as my current modern house is not abundant with storage spaces.
Waifs and Strays
This is more of a lifestyle choice rather than a hobby. I love animals and since I’ve been married I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of animals companions. Many of these turned up on my doorstep and I didn’t have the heart to turn them away.
When I married in the ‘eighties’, our first house was a terrace in a rundown part of town. Needless to say, there were more than a few homeless cats and they seemed to realise, I wouldn’t be able to turn them away. When I was ready to move to house number two, I had five cats, two adopted from my next door neighbour as kittens and three strays .
Oby my nine year old Border Collie/ German Shepherd cross, is the latest addition to the family. My husband spotted his sad story, by chance, on his social media and once he’d showed me, Oby was always going to join our family and we’re so glad he did. Especially Jazz who’s had a great time over the last three years with his new pal.
So, I think you can gather from this post that I’m a collector, I also love, pictures, glassware and plants. I only have a cottage garden now but its packed full with plants and miniature fruit trees.
What about you? What do you like to collect? Comment on my post or join in on Twitter -#LifeBooksWriting.
Having a dedicated writing space doesn’t work for me because I don’t like being shut off from the rest of the family. I like noise and interruptions. If I’m in the mood to write, then I can write anywhere. I have already shared my current writing space; in a previous Author Blog Challenge post. You can read this by clicking here.
A comfy sofa, a view of the garden and the company of my dogs and the ever present laptop is all I need to write.
However, inspiration for my stories is another matter. I need wide open spaces and visual stimulation to come up with ideas. As I have mentioned on more than one occasion , setting for my stories is always one of the first things I decide on. So, my dream inspiration space would be somewhere with a view.
Writer’s block is the inability to think of something to write, or continue with something you are writing. This condition is usually temporary and more a state of mind rather than a physical incapacity.
Overcoming writer’s block is always a popular blogging topic for writers but it’s not something I have much experience of. When I actually get the opportunity to sit down and write my books, the ideas are brimming over and it’s usually more a case of writer’s cramp than `writer’s block.
So whilst I don’t purport to be an expert on writer’s block here are a few ideas to overcome it.
Only write when you have something to say, if the words aren’t flowing, do something else. I know this is difficult, especially for those who must write so many words per day but a short break can work wonders. Let your mind drift and that insurmountable problem will suddenly have an answer.
My ‘go to’ relaxation is to walk my dogs but a little retail therapy or coffee with friends is often just as good.
If taking a break isn’t an option then work on something else. Writing is writing after all and a blog post or a book review is just as creative as a chapter of your novel. Once you realise you can still write… Well you get my drift?
So if neither of the above works, then just write. Even if the words you’re writing aren’t what you really want to say, sometimes just writing helps the creativity. Remember, you can always change it later but you can’t edit a blank page.
Finally if all else fails, sleep on it. I often problem solve most effectively when I’m asleep and that goes for real life problems too, not just creative ones.
If you have your own solutions to writer’s block comment below or tweet me at @jolliffe03 using #LifeBookswriting
So like many writers, I am an avid reader too. I would never have become a writer, if I hadn’t read books, I’d like to have written and these are a few of them.
The Donovan Legacy – Nora Roberts
I loved these romantic paranormal stories about a supernatural family. If you enjoyed the 1990’s witchy TV series Charmed you’ll love these stories too. The romance is easy, the characters believable and the magic is the perfect escapism.
The Dragon Legacy Series
I wanted to write stories with the same mix of paranormal romance and fantasy . I decided to write a paranormal romance after reading this series but it was over ten years later, when I wrote my first paranormal romance; The Dragon Legacy series.
Ashes to Ashes – Tami Hoag
I also love reading mysteries and thrillers, especially those that get inside the mind of the antagonist. Tami Hoag, does this perfectly, especially in my favourite story of hers.
The female lead in this story is perfectly flawed but so easy to empathise with. The villain is pure evil and the suspense to die for. I read this in the late nineties but its still one of my favourite suspense thrillers.
In my current release, The Dangerous Gift, I tried to create the same suspenseful ethos with elements of romance and mystery intertwined.
The Cat Who… Lilian Jackson Braun
My mum loved, what is now termed cosy mysteries and she introduced me to Lilian Jackson Braun and ‘The Cat Who….’ mysteries. These feature a quirky private detective and his two Siamese cats, who are really the stars of the book; Koko and Yum Yum. The stories are simple but full of interesting characters and they remind me of happy times with my mum.
Tangled Reins and Four in Hand – Stephanie Laurens
I have always loved reading Regency Romance and Stephanie Laurens’, ‘Four in Hand’ and ‘Tangled Reins’ are two of my all time favourites Arrogant, sexy heroes. Feisty , intelligent yet vulnerable heroines and a glamorous settings make them great to read.
My love of Regency romance,mystery, suspense and the paranormal, inspired me to write my latest story ‘Past Shadows’ . which I hope to release later this year. Excerpts are on Wattpad under my user name JaneHunt5.
Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe Debbie Johnson
As a book reviewer, I am lucky enough to read stories from many different authors. One of my favourites because her stories never fail to make me laugh out loud is Debbie Johnson. Her latest book ‘ Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’ is her most memorable tale to date, full of fun, poignancy and some many delightfully, real characters. Definitely a must read this summer.
So that’s my top five books, what are yours and why? Comment below or on Twitter using the hashtag #LifeBooksWriting.
So a typical day in my life starts early… I’m usually awake about 5 am, earlier at the moment because it’s so light. I love Springtime and Summer and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.
Read emails on phone, let the dogs out, make a coffee or a smoothie but to be honest it’s usually coffee with cream of course. The plan then is to write; book reviews, blogs or my latest work in progress. For my regular blog followers you will know that I’m a sporadic writer, when it comes to my books but once I’m hooked, writing is all I want to do.
Vince and I usually take Jazz and Oby out for a walk on the trail or in Pleasley country Park. If possible, I like to go earlier than this because its at its best when there is no one else there.
Breakfast with my daughter and grandson, definitely one of my favourite parts of the day. Though the clearing up is taking longer now he can have his own piece of toast.
Then its work time, this is usually writing of some description. I don’t normally stop for lunch, so I work through until 5 pm when its time to feed the dogs, prepare the dinner and catch up on domestic chores. Some days, I do house work or cooking during my work time, especially if I’ve managed to write earlier in the day. The best thing about working from home as a writer is the flexibility.
Another walk for the dogs and then I eat, watch TV, usually soaps, house programmes or US drama.