Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Family Drama, Gangland Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, saga

Trickster -Sam Michaels – 4* #Review #Author #Interview @Aria_Fiction @SamMichaelsGG #BlogTour #Extract #Historical #Crime #Fiction #Saga

To be ruthless is to be powerful, at least it is on the Battersea streets…

Georgina Garrett was born to be ruthless and she’s about to earn her reputation.

As World War One is announced a baby girl is born. Little do people know that she’s going to grow up to rule the streets of Battersea. From a family steeped in poverty the only way to survive is with street smarts.

With a father who steals for a living, a grandmother who’s a woman of the night and a mother long dead, Georgina was never in for an easy life. But after a tragic event left her father shaken he makes a decision that will change the course of all their lives – to raise Georgina as George, ensuring her safety but marking the start of her life of crime…

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set in the early 20th-century ‘Trickster’ follows the fortunes of Georgina Garrett from her birth in 1914 when England declared war on Germany. Georgina knows tragedy from her first breath, she is no stranger to loss and falls foul of the depravity she is born into, despite the love and protection of her family.

This historical crime saga is characterised by well-researched historical detail, which brings the story to life. It’s easy to imagine the poverty, depravity and violence of the London slums. The writing is full of vivid imagery and dialogue which gives it an authentic feel.

The characters are believable and even though many of them are criminals, they are easy to empathise. Many are victims of circumstance, they commit crimes and act violently to survive. The strong family bond essential for gangland crime fiction is evident in this story, and it is this that makes it such an absorbing read.

The abuse, language and violence are graphic, but not gratuitous. They make this story an authentic reading experience, but there will be times when you will cringe or want to look away.

The plot is well- written and has many twists, that shape Georgina Garrett and her future self. The underlying theme of the story is based on a misnomer, which gives this story a refreshing uniqueness. This is an accomplished debut story and I look forward to reading book two.

Q&A with Sam Michaels – TricksterI

Sagas are popular in romantic fiction, but your story is a crime-based saga, what inspired you to write this? Are all the stories historically based?

I’ve always enjoyed sagas, been interested in early 20th- century history and fascinated with the criminal underworld. So, it made sense for me to combine the three, hence, Trickster was born. It’s been a good outlet for my ghastly imagination!

The stories in the Georgina Garrett series of books are historically based, though as they progress, the last one will end in the ’60s and ’70s.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

My main character always comes first, along with a small scenario which sets the scene for the rest of the book. I think the character comes first as I believe this is the most important part of the story. Good, strong characters make good stories!

 Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

My characters are mostly from my imagination although I do bring in aspects of real-life people I know. To make them realistic, I find myself acting out each character’s point of view – their voices, facial expressions and sometimes even their body movements. Obviously, I do all this in my head as I don’t want my husband to think I’m a lunatic!

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I’m a fan of true stories, especially tales of triumph over hardship or really gory crime. I’ve recently discovered Bill Bryson books which are not my normal ilk but I’m finding them very amusing and interesting.

 When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

I’ve been writing for the past few years since I moved from the UK to Spain. The best thing about being a writer is knowing that your work is bringing pleasure to someone, and that could be anywhere in the world. The worst thing is being sat indoors in front of my computer when the sun is shining outside.

What are you currently writing?

I’m nearing the end of writing the first draft of the next book in the Georgina Garrett series. It’s been wonderful to dip back into the first book and bring out some of the lesser characters and give them a more prominent role in this story.

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Sam Michaels lives in Spain with her family and a plethora of animals. Having been writing for years Trickster is her debut novel.

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Extract from Trickster – Book 1 – Georgina Garrett series – Sam Michaels

‘I dunno what to do, Mum. She needs a feed…’

Dulcie chewed her lower lip as her mind turned but then struck by an idea she said, ‘Don’t worry, Jack, I know someone who might be able to help. There’s a jug of ale in the kitchen. Go and pour yourself a glass. I’ll be back as soon as I can.’

Dulcie left her house and hurried along the narrow street with the wailing baby in her arms. She could ill afford to feed Percy and herself, let alone this poor little mite, and a wet nurse didn’t come cheap. However, if her idea panned out, she wouldn’t have to part with a penny.

Fifteen minutes later Dulcie was in the roughest part of town. This was an area where no person of good virtue would dare to frequent. Women hung out of windows with their bosoms on display, vying for business, while others were drunk, vomiting openly in the filthy streets. In a dark corner behind a cart, Dulcie glimpsed a woman bent over with her skirt up, a punter behind her, trousers round his ankles as he pounded hard for his pleasure.

This wasn’t the sort of place where Dulcie felt comfortable carrying a small baby. She held her granddaughter protectively close to her and tried to muffle the child’s screams in the hope of avoiding any unwanted attention.

The sun was still high in the sky. Dulcie was grateful, as she would have been worried if it had been dark. A short, skinny man with bare feet and a bent back walked towards her. His leering eyes unnerved Dulcie and she could see he was trying to peer at the child she held. He stood ominously in front of her, blocking her path. If she hadn’t had been carrying Georgina, she wouldn’t have given a second thought to kneeing him in the crotch.

With an evil sneer, he licked his lips, nodded towards the baby and then asked, ‘How much?’

‘This child is not for sale,’ Dulcie said firmly, then sidestepped the man and marched on. It was no secret that in these streets, any desire could be bought for the right price, but it turned Dulcie’s stomach. It wasn’t unusual for a prostitute to fall with an unwanted pregnancy, then sell the child on, no questions asked. Dulcie didn’t believe it was something any woman wanted to do, but the desperation of poverty forced them into it. Gawd knows where those helpless babies ended up, or what they went through, Dulcie thought and shuddered. She reckoned the women would be better off killing their babies – something she suspected her friend Ruby had recently resorted to.

She had seen many young women turn to drugs or booze to numb the pain and block out the memories of what they’d done. Some went out of their minds and ended up in institutions, a fate worse than death, and it was something she didn’t want to see happen to Ruby. The girl was only sixteen, with bright ginger hair and a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Her fair skin was the colour of porcelain, so when she’d turned up on the streets one day her purple and yellow bruises had really stood out.

Dulcie had taken her under her wing and learned that Ruby was homeless after running away from her abusive father. Her mother had died when Ruby was seven, and her father had forced her into his bed to fulfil the role of his wife. When he’d filled her belly with a child, he’d beaten her until she miscarried, then thrown her out to fend for herself.

Dulcie did her best to protect the girl and would steer her away from the customers she knew had a liking for wanting to rough up the women, but it hadn’t been long before she’d noticed that Ruby was trying to hide a growing bump in her stomach. She’d had a quiet word with her and found that Ruby was distraught, fearing her secret would be discovered and she’d be sent to the workhouse. Dulcie felt sorry for the girl but, struggling herself to make enough money to live on, she could only offer a shoulder to cry on.

Less than a week ago and well into her pregnancy, Ruby disappeared, but then she’d turned up again two days ago, her stomach flat. She refused to discuss the fate of the baby, but Dulcie noticed her demeanour had changed. Where once she’d been a chatty young woman with a wicked sense of humour, she was now mostly silent, her eyes veiled in a darkness that Dulcie couldn’t penetrate.

Ruby lived in the basement of a shared house at the end of the street. It was decrepit, with the roof caved in and the stairs to the upper level broken. Dulcie thought the whole house looked unsound and had never been inside, but she had to speak to Ruby and hoped to find her in. She took a deep breath and braced herself for what she may find, then slowly walked down the stairs that led to the basement door. It was open, so with trepidation, she stepped inside.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry – Caroline Roberts – #BlogTour 5* #Review – #AuthorQ&A @_caroroberts@HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #Puddings #Northumberland #Farming #Sheep #PuddingPantry

Primrose Farm is Rachel’s very own slice of heaven. Come rain or shine there’s always a pot of tea brewing by the Aga, the delicious aroma of freshly baked puddings, and a chorus of happy memories drifting through the kitchen.

But the farm is in a spot of trouble. As the daffodils spring, Rachel must plant the seeds of change if she wants to keep the farm afloat, and it’s all resting on a crazy plan. She’ll need one family cookbook, her Mum Jill’s baking magic – and a reason to avoid her distractingly gorgeous neighbour, Tom . . .

Swapping their wellies for aprons, can Rachel and Jill bake their way into a brighter future? The proof will be in the pudding!

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’, is a lovely mix of family drama, friendship, romance and humour, with a sprinkling of poignant life experiences that may have you reaching for the tissues.

Not surprisingly, it is full of delicious puddings, as Rachel and her mother strive to find a way of keeping the family farm. There is an empowering, female family dynamic, spanning four generations, which withstands the heartache and tragedy the Swinton women have to face.

The story’s romance grows from an interesting take on the ‘boy next door’ trope. Tom, the attractive farmer at the neighbouring farm is always there to help out, Rachel grew up with him, so he can only ever be a friend, can’t he? The romance is sweet but embroiled in conflict. Is it worth losing their longstanding friendship for a chance of something deeper but riskier?

The Swinton women are easy to like, and all have a strength of character born out of adversity and familial love. They are believable and are written so that you can visualise them and become invested in their future happiness.

The authentic setting in a North Northumberland farming community is another attractive aspect of this book, I love this area and the descriptions and ethos of the community recounted in this story, make it an even more enjoyable read.

Written in addictive, short chapters that get you hooked, each has a title that includes a pudding or cake, which gives the story an added appeal but also makes you reach for the cake tin.

There is a clever connection between the puddings and the emotion of the story. Warm, soft Brownies equating to a warm, empathic friend. Sweet Sticky Toffee Pudding, synonymous with a comforting, conversation with your family.

The perfect holiday read, ‘Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’, delivers a well-paced story about family, friends, loyalty and love, against a background of community, hard work, heartbreak, and heartwarming romance, as the Swinton women learn how to adapt to change, to secure their family legacy.

ARC
Q&A with Caroline Roberts – Rachel’s Pudding Pantry

Is there a specific place or moment that inspired you to create The Pudding Pantry?

I think the initial spark was when I saw an image in a magazine of a lovely stone barn that had been converted into beautiful cottages in Northumberland, and I also knew of tearooms and farm shops that have been created in old farm buildings in the area. I was interested in the idea of diversification in farming, and the need for Rachel and her family to take this step to give Primrose Farm a future. It was lovely to imagine how The Pudding Pantry would look once finished, and what a cosy, welcoming place it would become, full of scrumptious bakes and cakes.

What did you most enjoy about writing this novel (apart from sampling some delicious puddings of course!)?

The romance! How can I not mention the gorgeous next-door farmer, Tom? There is even a rather wonderful, Poldark-style chest-bearing moment that takes Rachel rather by surprise. We see the relationship grow between Rachel and Tom, despite age differences and being farming neighbours, and it’s lovely how that romance unfolds between them, I enjoyed writing that.

Image Credit – Caroline Roberts

And what were some of your absolute favourite puddings that you sampled along the way?

It’s been such hard research, hah, but somebody had to do it!! Sticky toffee pudding is up there as one of my all-time favourites, and I do love a pavlova with summer fruits, the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake I adapted myself and was very pleased with the result, Susan Green’s Ginger Pudding is a delight, and you obviously can’t beat some gorgeous apple crumble – I like mine with a little warming spice and cream.

Image Credit – Caroline Roberts

We love seeing photos of your gorgeous dog Jarvis on twitter! Does he help or hinder your writing routine?

Hah, at the moment he is still only nine months old, so I have to admit when I need to settle quietly to write at home, he just wants to play and is a bit of hindrance, bless him. But when we are out and about on our walks together, I do get inspired by the landscapes and changing seasons around me. Both Jarvis and my last dog, Meg, who are cocker spaniels, inspire my doggie characters – being Alfie, the spaniel, in the Chocolate Shop books and now Moss, the wonderful border collie, in Rachel’s Pudding Pantry.

Image Credit – Caroline Roberts

And has your writing routine changed over the course of your career?

I’ve had to become more focussed with my writing; having written seven books in four years. So, I have my own writing room – in the small bedroom. I also have a proper chair and desk now, rather than writing in the conservatory or at the kitchen table as my back was beginning to feel it. But I can write anywhere if need be, as I still write my first draft of each scene longhand then type it up later. If inspiration strikes, I can often be found up at 3am jotting down notes or even whole lines of dialogue that just appear in my head in the middle of the night – strange but true!

What would you most like for readers to take away from Rachel’s Pudding Pantry?

I’d like my readers to be able to escape for a while into Rachel’s world, with a heart-warming read that feels like a hug in a book.

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry, like your previous novels, is so joyful and warm. However, it does still tackle some serious issues. How do you balance writing about things like grief without taking away from the uplifting nature of your stories?

I want my books to reflect real life with all its trials and tribulations, which I know can be so very hard at times, so I’m not afraid to explore the impact of grief and loss. However, I am a very optimistic person and I strongly believe in the power of love, family, and friendship, to help us heal and in being kind to ourselves too. That’s where the journey of the story and our lives take us, and I want readers to feel there is always hope.

Back Cover – ARC
Image Credit Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts lives in the wonderful Northumberland countryside with her husband and credits the sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her as inspiration for her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss and family, which explore how beautiful and sometimes complex love can be. A slice of cake, glass of bubbly and a cup of tea would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal after many years of writing.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Excerpt, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

She’s Mine – Claire S.Lewis – #BlogTour- 4*#Review- #Author #Interview- #Extract @Aria_Fiction @CSLewisWrites

She was never mine to lose…

When Scarlett falls asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone. With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her name.

As Scarlett begins to unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island?

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I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is not what I expected. The first few chapters make you think certain events have occurred, and following on from this, the list of suspects is few, but then you are transported back to 1997, and what you discover there changes your perception of what happened on the beach.

The flashbacks are in a series of photographs which trigger a specific set of memories of the unknown narrator. The introduction of new characters seemingly unrelated to the event on the Carribean island, and initially cause confusion for the reader, but gradually the connections can be made and the puzzle starts to form a coherent picture.

Scarlett is an unreliable protagonist, she has past secrets, which reinforce her unreliability. She is also immature and easily swayed by the stronger, more mature personalities she comes into contact with. Costa is an unconventional investigator, they make an unusual but effective investigating team.

The characters are complex and all are flawed, keeping secrets, behaving instinctively, rather than with caution. Can the reader trust any of them for a truthful account?

The plot is intriguing, there are plenty of clues but these are countered by misinformation, so when you think you know what happened you don’t.

Surprisingly, I did work out the ending but this didn’t detract from the story.

A compulsive, psychological thriller, with well-crafted suspense and some clever twists, and an overriding poignant ethos, worth reading.

Claire S. Lewis – Author Interview

What inspired you to write this story?

She’s Mine started as a little exercise that I wrote on ‘setting’ for a beginner’s online creative writing course.  I chose a beach setting because I thought that would be a good way of using all the five senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – in the description.  You’re usually very engaged with your senses when lying on a beach!  To make it more interesting, I added the plot element of a nanny falling asleep on the sand and waking up to find that the little girl she was supposed to be looking after had disappeared. When I later took the Faber Academy course on writing a novel, I used this piece as the opening chapter for my novel draft which became She’s Mine.

What is the first thing you decide when writing a story, the setting, the plot or characters? Why do you think this is?

When starting a story, the first thing that gets me writing is the plot. Sometimes a conversation or a news item or something I hear on the radio makes me think, ‘that would be a great starting point for a novel’, or ‘if you put that into a novel nobody would believe it’, and from that scene or idea, I develop a plot.  Next, I imagine which characters would act out that plot and how they would interact with each other. And then I think about what would be an interesting or enticing setting or stage for those characters – usually, I like to pick locations that I know well and that I know I would love bringing to life in descriptions. So, in She’s Mine, much of the backstory is set in Oxford because I was a student there and it is a beautiful and atmospheric city that is still very vivid in my memory. I can easily wind back the clock and put myself in the place of my characters and imagine myself there, seeing and feeling it from inside their heads.

I think the plot interests me the most because I like the idea of setting up a puzzle and then gradually letting the readers into the mystery. The characters are there to act out the plot. I am also really interested in exploring devices such as the ‘unreliable narrator’ – like the nanny,  Scarlett, in She’s Mine. In addition, I enjoy playing around with changing narrative viewpoints so that the reader sees parts of the puzzle or mystery through one character’s eyes but has to read between the lines to work out the ‘truth’ that is eventually revealed when the narrative perspective changes to another character. I use this device a lot in my second novel. The plot is the starting point for all this.

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

My characters are mostly imaginary – which is lucky because they tend to be quite dark and complicated! Of course, in some cases, I draw on certain personality traits of people I know in real life, or perhaps not so much personality traits but ways of speaking and interacting with other people. After reading the first draft of She’s Mine, my teenage daughter said to me, ‘So Scarlett’s basically me!’ I wasn’t conscious of writing this (and they certainly don’t have the same characters!), but she recognised herself in Scarlett’s narrative voice! So far all of my male characters have been flawed – weak, vain, untrustworthy, and the like. I wouldn’t say this is a reflection of the men in my life! In She’s Mine, my anti-hero Damien was in part inspired by a particularly unpleasant man I spoke to very briefly at an event some years ago! Sometimes it doesn’t take much to light the spark of a character…

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I love reading all sorts of fiction books as long as they are not too heavy or slow moving! Particular authors/books that I have loved since I was a teenager include Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited), Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby/Tender is the Night), Graham Greene (The Confidential Agent/The Power and The Glory), Nancy Mitford (Love in a Cold Climate) and Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr Ripley). I think these books are brilliant because they are so beautifully written with such intriguing stories, charismatic characters and entrancing settings. I also love modern psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Cry and You. My all-time favourite novel is Gone With The Wind which I devoured when I was growing up.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

Before I had children, I was an aviation lawyer for Virgin Atlantic, but I’ve always loved reading and books, and always dreamt of writing a novel.  So after having been at home with the children for a few years, I finally took the plunge and signed up for some creative writing courses – both novel and screenwriting – to see if I could do it – then I got hooked. I love writing fiction because of the freedom it gives you to escape and get lost in other worlds. And I love psychological suspense because I find the psychological part fascinating – imagining what’s going on in other people’s minds – and the suspense part is so much fun to create because it’s what keeps us reading – the ‘what if?’ and ‘what next’ that makes us want to keep turning the page!

What are you currently writing?

I’m currently writing another story in the genre of psychological suspense about a beautiful young florist with a tragedy in her past. It’s wonderful to write because I’m researching the world of floristry and flowers (as well as getting to grips with the workings of dating apps such as Tinder which I’ve never looked at before!). The plot revolves around stalking (no pun intended!) but it’s not clear who is the predator and who is the victim…

Thank you so much, Jane, for giving me the opportunity to write for your lovely blog, Jane Hunt Writer!

Extract

That’s the truth, but not the whole truth. What I don’t reveal to her is an incident that took place in Christina’s bedroom the week before we flew out to the British Leeward Isles. I don’t disclose it because the incident doesn’t put me in a good light either! On Tuesdays, Katie does a full day at kindergarten so I have a little time to myself. I’ve got into the habit of using Christina’s en-suite, luxurious, walk-in power shower and expensive beauty products following the weekly hot yoga class that I go to after dropping off Katie. So last Tuesday, I had just finished my shower and wrapped myself in Christina’s bathrobe when I heard her bedroom door opening and then the sound of her antique roll top desk being unlocked.

I thought she must have come back early from work for some reason. There was nothing else for it but to come clean (literally!) and apologise for taking the liberty of using her bathroom without asking first. So I took off her bathrobe, draped a towel around me and opened the door. But it wasn’t Christina. It was Damien with his back to me, checking the contents of the desk. Caught in the act. Hearing the catch he started and turned in alarm. He reddened but quickly composed himself and went on the offensive.

‘What a vision of beauty!’ he sneered as I stood there, my wet hair dripping onto the carpet. ‘I didn’t realise you and Christina were so intimate.’

‘And I didn’t realise you made a habit of going through her private papers!’ I snapped back. I know very well that the desk, an old family heirloom shipped over from the UK, is a strictly no-go area that she keeps locked at all times. He just laughed and then cool as a cucumber, he slipped some documents into a green cardboard file under his arm, locked the desk, pocketed the key and marched out of the room.

‘Just mind your own business and keep out of our affairs. Or you’ll be going the same way as the previous nanny,’ was his parting shot.

I understood this was no idle threat. Christina’s so possessive and distrustful that I knew if she got wind of this brush with Damien, she would imagine the worst and I’d be out of a job. So I said nothing to Christina in New York and I say nothing to the police officer now as she converses with me in the hotel bedroom.

I decide to keep my suspicions about Damien to myself – for now.

*

For something that was supposed to have been a ‘friendly chat’ the questioning is intense. After asking about my relations with Christina and Damien she embarks on a list of questions clearly aimed at working out a timeline for my movements this afternoon. What time did I arrive at the beach with Katie? Did I speak to anyone? Did anyone approach me or Katie? Did I notice anyone watching her? What time did I fall asleep? What time did I wake up? When did I become aware Katie was missing? What did I do next? Did I see anyone on the beach when I was looking for her? How long did I spend searching the beach before raising the alarm? What time did I tell Christina her little girl was missing?

My head is pounding and I feel like a criminal by the time the family liaison officer finally puts her notepad away.

‘These questions are nothing to worry about,’ she assures me. ‘We just need to establish the timeline for the disappearance of the little girl.’ She ends the conversation by encouraging me to contact her ‘any time, any place’ if I need support or if I ‘remember’ anything else that may be relevant to the investigation. I half expect her to clap me in handcuffs and announce that she’s putting me under arrest when at last she says that I’m at liberty to go.

*

In a waking nightmare, we struggle on through the grief-stricken hours of the day making calls, badgering the search team for any new scrap of information and giving interviews to reporters in the belief that getting Katie’s story out there might somehow help in her rescue.

The worst moment comes just after midnight when the operation is called to a halt. I collapse onto a chair in a quivering heap. All the strength has gone from my legs. Christina appears distraught, begging members of the police and emergency services to go on searching.

‘There’s nothing more we can do tonight. We’ll resume at dawn. You should get some sleep,’ says the commander sternly. Holding our despair at bay and unable to contemplate the thought of sleep, we pace the beaches and the rocky headland for the next two hours, tripping over stones in the darkness, our steps lit only by the moon and stars in the cloudless black sky and the light from our mobile phones.

I am lightheaded with exhaustion by the time I accompany Christina to her room in the early hours of the morning. We sit out on the balcony mesmerised by the sound of waves rolling on to sand. We are too tired to speak. I make tea and give her three sleeping tablets from a packet I find in her wash bag. Once the tablets take effect, I steer her to bed, her expression vacant and confused, as she lets me pull the covers over her. It’s not until I shut Christina’s door and go down the corridor to the room I’m sharing with Katie that it strikes me again. Where the fuck is Damien? I haven’t seen him all day, not since he handed me the cocktail at the pool.

When I open the door, there is Katie’s blue bunny, propped up on her newly-made bed. The tears stream down my face. The bedtime story I was reading to her last night is still open at the page we got to when her eyes finally closed. It’s a beautifully illustrated copy of Peter Pan that Christina discovered in a quaint little bookshop called the Book Cellar, one of her favourite haunts for second-hand books. I glance down at the page. ‘The Mermaids’ Lagoon’ – Katie’s favourite chapter. She loves the colour illustrations of the mermaids diving in the waves. The doors to the balcony are open. I shiver in the sea breeze and step out through billowing curtains.

I stand there for a few moments still clutching Katie’s bucket.

Lost. Drowned.

Claire Simone Lewis studied philosophy, French literature and international relations at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge before starting her career in aviation law with a City law firm and later as an in-house lawyer at Virgin Atlantic Airways.  More recently, she turned to writing psychological suspense, taking courses at the Faber Academy. She’s Mine is her first novel. Born in Paris, she’s bilingual and lives in Surrey with her family. 
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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Excerpt, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Summer of New Beginnings – Lisa Hobman #BlogTour – 5* #Review – #Author #Interview #Extract @Aria_Fiction @LisaJHobmanAuth

Meet Zara Bailey, a travel writer paid to cover some of the globe’s most luxurious locations. Jetting from wooden huts on stilts in turquoise seas to boutique hotels with roaring fires to 7* penthouse suites with panoramic views of the world’s most glamorous cities…

Zara knows hers is the definition of a dream job! So she is seriously shocked to receive her next assignment; Scotland’s Northcoast 500 route. By bicycle. Sleeping in a tent so basic it can’t remotely be dressed up glamping! But this could be just the distraction the recently heartbroken, Zara needs. No men, no romance, just the breathtakingly rugged Highland scenery.

Until she meets croft owner Lachlan Grant, and his black and white Border Collie Bess, that is….

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I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, travel journalist Zara takes on an assignment that puts her firmly out of her comfort zone. Her cycle ride in the Highlands makes her realise that living life for the moment, and being brave enough to follow her dreams may be worth the risk.

The beautifully described setting makes it easy to imagine Zara’s journey. Her love-hate relationship with her mountain bike provides many humorous moments. Zara’s complex personality makes her both likeable and often frustrating. I found myself shouting at her to see the truth of the situations she’s in. So, she is realistic and easy to empathise. Lachlan is more of a mystery. He hides his kind nature under a brusque outward manner.

The plot is full of conflict and dilemma for Zara, it’s exhausting to read at times but worth the emotional angst. The well-written ending concludes all plot twists and gives Zara the life she deserves and needs.

Interview Questions: Lisa Hobman – A Summer of New Beginnings Blog Tour

What inspired you to write this story? The descriptions are realistic, have you cycled all or part of this journey?

I have actually driven the majority of the route. We visit the Highlands annually and last summer we had the pleasure of stopping off at some of the points I visit in the story. I’m not sure I’m fit enough to cycle it but I would love to camp it for sure!

The Scottish Highlands is a popular setting for novelists, what makes your stories different? Why do you think this is?

The Scottish Highlands evoke so many emotions and the dramatic scenery really does lend itself to romance, in my opinion. Many authors have this same attraction to the perfect setting. I tend to write stories about places I’ve visited and which have affected me in some way emotionally. I find this way I can give real credence to the descriptions of the breath-taking locations.

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

My characters are fictional; however, there are certain traits observed in real people that find their way into the ones I invent. It may be a story that someone tells me that resonates or perhaps a general personality that sparks an idea. But overall I keep real people out of my stories. My dogs, on the other hand, do feature! Ruby from A Seaside Escape is based on my own little characterful Patterdale Terrier.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I tend to enjoy crime novels. Partly because I’m fascinated by how they’re constructed so cleverly—clues and situations all weaved together until a bewildering climax eventually occurs. I especially love Ann Cleeves Shetland books. The scenery she creates with her words really transports me and I can almost be present in the story myself. It’s a bit of a dream of mine to write something in this genre but I have yet to attempt it.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

Writing is something I’ve always loved since childhood. I used to love writing stories and even wrote a book when I was a teenager! Until recent years it’s always been a bit of a pipe dream but I’m so happy to be fulfilling it now. Romance is a genre that I absolutely love to write. I love to get lost in the passion of a relationship whether it’s friends to lovers or second chances. Romance is something I find flows from my fingertips and makes me happy.

What are you currently writing?

My current work in progress is a novel set at Christmas but that’s all I’m prepared to say just now! You’ll need to watch this space as they say!

Extract

Zara stared, open-mouthed, at Noah as if he had completely lost the plot. As if his marbles were literally falling out of his ears as he spoke. She tried to wrap her head around the words he had uttered but her mind was in some kind of baffled stupor. Did he really just say camping to the girl who was accustomed to reviewing five-star luxury resorts for a living?

She shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, Noah, but… is this a joke?’ she asked hesitantly, dreading his answer. ‘You seem to be getting me confused with someone who likes the outdoors. I mean… I like being outdoors on the beach or checking out historical places for my reports, obviously, but camping? And Scotland?’ Noah was known for being a prankster; she waited for him to burst into hysterical laughter and do the whole, ‘Ha ha! Your face when I said camping! Of course, it’s a joke!’ But she waited in vain.

He leaned forward and fixed her with a pitiful gaze. ‘Zara, I know this isn’t your usual bag. I get that. But the fact is that the whole thing is booked. Dillon knew this and he’s still betrayed me; well, all of us really.’ There was a sad yet bitter edge to his usually jovial voice. He huffed and ran his hands through his greying, floppy hair. ‘And I need you to help me out on this. Dillon’s intern simply isn’t ready – in fact I wouldn’t have employed him at all, truth be told, but that’s a story for another day. It’s not something I would normally ask of you, but I can’t let this slip just because Dillon thinks he has bigger fish to fry. We may be a relatively small publication in comparison to others, but we still need to be at the top of our game. I’m counting on you, Zara. You’re my best travel writer as it is. But now Dillon is going you’re my only travel writer.’

She sighed deeply and an image of her petite body being crushed by a giant rucksack manifested in her mind. ‘But, Noah…’

He held up his hands. ‘I know. I know. But here’s the thing. Travelarium have got wind of the fact that Dillon is leaving. I got a call from Joel at their head office today. He couldn’t wait to stick his knife in. Sarcastic bastard. Anyway, they’re going to try and get there first. You know they’re already trying to make a name for themselves, and taking a portion of our readership would be a big bloody boost for them. This article would be a perfect inroad, believe me. They’re doing the real nitty-gritty stuff; the Australian outback and the bloody camel rides in Egypt. They’re making us look like we only care about the fluffy, frilly shit. But that was never my intention with The Bohemian. Dillon’s trip was supposed to be a real nuts and bolts piece; a chance to show our readership that we take travel seriously. And that the UK is just as important to us as a publication as the luxury destinations are. We can’t let it go. I won’t, Zara.’ She had never seen him like this. Obviously, Dillon’s shock announcement had floored him. But she wondered if there was something behind it all. Was the magazine struggling? Why was he not telling her if that was the case?

And anyway, what was wrong with fluff and frills? Life was too short to be so bothered about real life and all the crap that came with it. What was wrong with a bit of escapism?

She realised Noah was still on his rant about Travelarium and snapped her attention back to him. ‘… and the North Coast 500 route is so hot right now, Zara. It’s big news and we need to get in there first. Think of the team, eh?’

Good grief, next he’ll be telling me to think of the children. Talk about playing for my sympathy. She wasn’t quite ready to acquiesce. Not yet. ‘But surely there must be someone else better equipped and suited to doing the report. Surely there’s someone in the team, maybe a different department, for example, who loves camping and… and all that stuff.’

Noah closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them, he shook his head. ‘Zara, I’ve been let down by my best friend of God knows how many years. You currently have nothing assigned that can’t be put off for a while. I’m sorry but I can’t send anyone else. I need this to be done just right. I need your help on this. Please, Zara? You’re my only hope here.’

Suddenly the image of Noah dressed all in white with donuts for hair sprang to mind and she had to bite her lip so she didn’t laugh inappropriately at Noah’s Princess Leia-esque plea for help. She twisted her hands in her lap. She loved her job. And if the mag was in trouble she wanted to do all she could to help, obviously. Noah was an awesome boss and she wanted to be the reporter he needed her to be. But this was something above and beyond. She wouldn’t just be stepping out of her comfort zone. She’d be climbing in a spaceship and travelling until her comfort zone was a tiny speck on a distant planet. But she knew how much Noah had done for her. He’d taken a chance on her as a newly qualified journalist and she owed him so much.

She lifted her chin. ‘I need more information.’

Noah sat up straight once more, his wide-eyed expression filled with hope. ‘Anything. What do you need to know? Fire away.’

She cleared her throat, forcing the real question – i.e. Are you insane? – back from her tongue. ‘H-how will I be getting there?’

He nodded and took a slow, deep breath, which didn’t bode well. ‘Okay, so you’d be going north by train to Inverness. Then you’d pick up your bicycle and—’

‘Whoa! Hang on a darn-tooting-minute, here. Bicycle? You never mentioned anything about a bloody bicycle!’

Zara stared, open-mouthed, at Noah as if he had completely lost the plot. As if his marbles were literally falling out of his ears as he spoke. She tried to wrap her head around the words he had uttered but her mind was in some kind of baffled stupor. Did he really just say camping to the girl who was accustomed to reviewing five-star luxury resorts for a living?

She shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, Noah, but… is this a joke?’ she asked hesitantly, dreading his answer. ‘You seem to be getting me confused with someone who likes the outdoors. I mean… I like being outdoors on the beach or checking out historical places for my reports, obviously, but camping? And Scotland?’ Noah was known for being a prankster; she waited for him to burst into hysterical laughter and do the whole, ‘Ha ha! Your face when I said camping! Of course, it’s a joke!’ But she waited in vain.

He leaned forward and fixed her with a pitiful gaze. ‘Zara, I know this isn’t your usual bag. I get that. But the fact is that the whole thing is booked. Dillon knew this and he’s still betrayed me; well, all of us really.’ There was a sad yet bitter edge to his usually jovial voice. He huffed and ran his hands through his greying, floppy hair. ‘And I need you to help me out on this. Dillon’s intern simply isn’t ready – in fact, I wouldn’t have employed him at all, truth be told, but that’s a story for another day. It’s not something I would normally ask of you, but I can’t let this slip just because Dillon thinks he has bigger fish to fry. We may be a relatively small publication in comparison to others, but we still need to be at the top of our game. I’m counting on you, Zara. You’re my best travel writer as it is. But now Dillon is going you’re my only travel writer.’

She sighed deeply and an image of her petite body being crushed by a giant rucksack manifested in her mind. ‘But, Noah…’

He held up his hands. ‘I know. I know. But here’s the thing. Travelarium have got wind of the fact that Dillon is leaving. I got a call from Joel at their head office today. He couldn’t wait to stick his knife in. Sarcastic bastard. Anyway, they’re going to try and get there first. You know they’re already trying to make a name for themselves, and taking a portion of our readership would be a big bloody boost for them. This article would be a perfect inroad, believe me. They’re doing the real nitty-gritty stuff; the Australian outback and the bloody camel rides in Egypt. They’re making us look like we only care about the fluffy, frilly shit. But that was never my intention with The Bohemian. Dillon’s trip was supposed to be a real nuts and bolts piece; a chance to show our readership that we take travel seriously. And that the UK is just as important to us as a publication as the luxury destinations are. We can’t let it go. I won’t, Zara.’ She had never seen him like this. Obviously, Dillon’s shock announcement had floored him. But she wondered if there was something behind it all. Was the magazine struggling? Why was he not telling her if that was the case?

And anyway, what was wrong with fluff and frills? Life was too short to be so bothered about real life and all the crap that came with it. What was wrong with a bit of escapism?

She realised Noah was still on his rant about Travelarium and snapped her attention back to him. ‘… and the North Coast 500 route is so hot right now, Zara. It’s big news and we need to get in there first. Think of the team, eh?’

Good grief, next he’ll be telling me to think of the children. Talk about playing for my sympathy. She wasn’t quite ready to acquiesce. Not yet. ‘But surely there must be someone else better equipped and suited to doing the report. Surely there’s someone in the team, maybe a different department, for example, who loves camping and… and all that stuff.’

Noah closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them, he shook his head. ‘Zara, I’ve been let down by my best friend of God knows how many years. You currently have nothing assigned that can’t be put off for a while. I’m sorry but I can’t send anyone else. I need this to be done just right. I need your help on this. Please, Zara? You’re my only hope here.’

Suddenly the image of Noah dressed all in white with donuts for hair sprang to mind and she had to bite her lip so she didn’t laugh inappropriately at Noah’s Princess Leia-esque plea for help. She twisted her hands in her lap. She loved her job. And if the mag was in trouble she wanted to do all she could to help, obviously. Noah was an awesome boss and she wanted to be the reporter he needed her to be. But this was something above and beyond. She wouldn’t just be stepping out of her comfort zone. She’d be climbing in a spaceship and travelling until her comfort zone was a tiny speck on a distant planet. But she knew how much Noah had done for her. He’d taken a chance on her as a newly qualified journalist and she owed him so much.

She lifted her chin. ‘I need more information.’

Noah sat up straight once more, his wide-eyed expression filled with hope. ‘Anything. What do you need to know? Fire away.’

She cleared her throat, forcing the real question – i.e. Are you insane? – back from her tongue. ‘H-how will I be getting there?’

He nodded and took a slow, deep breath, which didn’t bode well. ‘Okay, so you’d be going north by train to Inverness. Then you’d pick up your bicycle and—’

‘Whoa! Hang on a darn-tooting-minute, here. Bicycle? You never mentioned anything about a bloody bicycle!’

Lisa’s debut novel was shortlisted in the 2014 RNA. Her stories centre around believable, yet down to earth characters and the places in Scotland she has visited and fallen in love with. She is a happily married mum of one with two energetic dogs.

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Posted in Author Interview, Book Review, New Books

Author Inteview: J A Kerr – 4* Review: The Braille Club#3 Undone

Today is release day for book 3 of  The Braille Club series by J.A. Kerr.

Here’s my interview with Julie.

An Interview with...

BC3When did you start writing? Did someone or something inspire your career choice?

I started writing in September 2013. I can’t believe two and a half years has passed, since I started my series. I suppose it was the advent of self-publishing that encouraged me to take the plunge. Knowing I could get my work out there and published was a dream come true. I would encourage anyone to pursue their dreams of publishing their work. However, it’s a very tough business. It’s not just about writing a story. Your work must be professionally edited and polished when you present it. Also you need to invest in a good book cover and professional formatting.

Do you have a day job? Or do you write full time?

I’m at home at the moment but I don’t write full time. I find my creative process works better when I take some time away from my laptop. I’ve learned so much and in hindsight, writing a series can be pressurised. I must admit I am keen to experiment into different areas after I finish my current book series.

Do you have a dedicated writing place? If so, why do you like writing there?

Yes I do. The photograph was just after I bought a new desk. I like this room because it’s cosy. I have a window to gaze out of during the day and a window box which I have stuffed full of flowers. My writing room is also next to the kitchen so I can top up my coffee addiction, and if I’m writing at night, then a lovely glass wine.

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Can you tell us about ‘The Braille Club’ series? What is the inspiration behind it?

The Braille Club is a private members club that engages your senses. Although sensuality plays a big part, there is also intrigue and a touch of thriller in each book. There are several stories running through because people join the club for very different reasons. Each book features old and new characters which keeps the series fresh and readers guessing.

Is the latest in ‘The Braille Club’ series ‘The Braille Undone’ the final book, or will there be more?

There will be one more book, The Braille Club Reborn to complete the series which I have finished and it’s currently out to Beta readers for feedback.

Would you ever consider self-publishing your work? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of this publishing method?

Yes, I started out with self-publishing. I’ve read a lot of great indie authors. The advantages are, you have complete control of your work, and the disadvantages are—it can be costly. However, if you invest in making your book the best it can be, you own the rights forever.

Are you a reader? If so, what types of books do you like to read and why?

I’m a huge reader. I like suspense and crime preferably but I’m open to most genres. I usually have an audio book, an eBook and paperback on the go at any one time.

How important is social media to an author? Why is this do you think?

Social media is huge to an author. It allows me to connect with readers from all over the world. However, I understand it’s not for everyone. I’m not good at sharing…call me old fashioned but I seemed to have missed the social media explosion. I hate getting my photograph taken and out of all the mediums, I prefer twitter. You can dip in and out when you want.

What’s your favourite thing about being a writer and why?

My favourite thing about being a writer is making an idea grow and form into a story. The excitement of making my stories come alive. I love everything about my craft. I never feel lonely, I have a huge online community of authors that I interact with, from the comfort of my home. Also I love that one day I can be writing a novel and the next day I can be writing a script. Creative diversity is something I enjoy.

What’s your next writing project?

A short one act play which I have written the bones of but now have to flesh out and edit before I submit it. I also hope to offer it to local drama groups. I would also like to script write my novels into a TV series. So plenty to keep me busy 🙂

 

Adult Read

Book cover Braille Club Undone

Untitled

The Braille Club fulfils desires and fantasies. It guarantees members—sensory overload.  Pleasure comes in many forms. Some playful and exciting, others…twisted by evil. Would you risk pain in exchange for pleasure?

Benedict and Sienna Harrison are left reeling…

Siena and Benedict—newlyweds and owners of the exclusive Braille Club—are determined more than ever to protect their family. “Knox,” their new home seems safe; but a presence lurks in the shadows. Watching, waiting. When the weak link is identified, their whole world will be blown apart.

Simon Lawrence will stop at nothing to satisfy his desires…

But his wife, Tess, has other plans. Tired of her husband’s infidelity, she resorts to desperate measures. However, Simon won’t let this new woman slip through his fingers. Distraught, Tess will stop at nothing to protect them and her secret. How far will she go to save her husband…from himself?

Virinder Bashir desires the freedom of the club…

Forced to marry Noor Chaudry, a beautiful, ruthless, and desperate woman, Virinder rejects their arranged marriage, seeing through her façade. During his sensual Braille lessons however, Noor becomes the center of his fantasies. After tragedy comes a blooming love, but not everyone wants them to live happily ever after.

A new client tempts Anna Dunbar down a dangerous, yet exciting path…

Manager of Harrison’s and the Braille Club, Guy Walker’s relationship with Anna Dunbar is failing.  Feeling neglected, Anna’s flirting ignites Guy’s determination to win her back. Their mutual development of a new Braille Club Zone reawakens their dark desires, but will these desires unite…or destroy them?

Cords and ropes aren’t the only strings being pulled at the Braille Club. Danger lurks beneath deadly desires and obsessive fantasies… Will you indulge your desires and enter the Braille Club once again?

 

Book Trailer

Buy Links 1

Amazon UK

Amazon

Winter My Review

 This third book in the series is darker than the previous two stories and the mystery and thriller elements dominate but there is still plenty of heat. Guy is developing a new zone in the Braille club and it takes him to the dark side of sensuality. The lives of some interesting new characters collide at The Braille Club but it’s Benedict and Sienna that remain the story’s most interesting characters.

Nick makes his presence felt, despite his incarceration and he is determined to have his revenge on Sienna and Benedict. There are plenty of shocks in this story and some disturbing scenes I didn’t like but they do illustrate Nick’s evil nature.

The story doesn’t end here; there is one more book to come.

 I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Other Books in The Braille Club Series

Click on the book  image to read my review of Book 1

BC2

Amazon UK

Amazon

Click on the book image to read my review of Book 2

The Braille Club Unbound FRONT

 Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

 

 A CHANCE to WIN an eBOOK, BOOK SWAG & $5 AMAZON GIFTCARD!

 by liking J.A. Kerr’s Facebook page:

http://facebook.com/JAKerrBRAILLE

A winner will be selected on the 3rd August.

Author Bio

JA (Julie Ann) Kerr was born in the spring of 1967 at Paisley’s Ross Hospital in Scotland and grew up in Glasgow. She was an office administrator and latterly a recruitment consultant before marrying and relocating to The Netherlands with her husband. After two years, she moved to Cheshire where her first child was born and returned to work part-time. Her final relocation took her back to her home town of Glasgow where she welcomed the arrival of her second child. She raised her family whilst harbouring dreams of becoming a writer. In September 2013, she started her first book.

‘When I set out to write these books, I wanted to create something that mirrored exactly the kind of books I like to read. My top picks are always originals featuring strong male and female protagonists with attitude. The Braille Club Series books are a great mix of genres. Although sensuality plays a big part, there is also intrigue and a touch of thriller.

I love to connect.’

Never miss a thing sign up to my fun monthly newsletter Keeping up with a KERRdashion…for all my book gossip, giveaways and updates 🙂

 

Links

FACEBOOK

WEBSITE

TWITTER

FACEBOOK FAN PAGE

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AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

 

 

 

Posted in Author Interview

Wendy Lou Jones -Author Interview

An Interview with...

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 Today I have the lovely Wendy Lou Jones on my blog. 

What made you become a writer?

Oh, it’s so corny; I just woke up from a dream one day and was so captured by it that I started thinking about what might have happened to my heroine to get her to that place in the story and what would have happened after, if I’d stayed asleep. I wrote it all down, every night for 6 months. I guess it became a way of life.

Do you write full time or in addition to your ‘day job’? What’s your favourite time of day to write and why?

I’m fortunate to be a stay at home mum, so I write when I like. My favourite time of day to write is in the evening until late at night, but my favourite time to think is first thing in the morning. I think my brain is fresh from mulling things over in my sleep in the morning and I have nothing else to do in the evenings mostly, especially now there’s so little on TV, so that’s when I write.

You’re stories are deeply emotional and often contain an unexpected twist. Are these the type of stories you like to read? Has anyone inspired or influenced your writing style?

I do like emotional tales, it’s true. And I don’t like things to be too obvious. I guess you could say I write the kind of story I would like to read, yes. I love reading historical romances though, I’m just rubbish at history. I like their drama. Everything was so much more life and death in those days.

     As for inspiration, it was Lisa Kleypas who got me reading more than a couple of books a year. I love her historicals and have read many of them now.  I also love a lot of Nicholas Sparks’ stories. I guess, in the start, they were the kind of thing I aspired to write.

Traditional publishing or self publishing which do you prefer and why?

I think traditional publishing makes you feel more worthy of the title (it did for me, anyway) and it helps you understand the big picture of businesses. Having a publisher’s backing is like someone saying, read her, she’s great. It’s a very welcome thing for a new author. I do like the speed and control of self-publishing though. A best of both would be good.

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Your latest series is ‘The Echoes of Nutt Hill’ what inspired you write this series?

This series started when I was looking for something to write (years ago) and I went to a ploughing match near my village and saw a man who didn’t quite fit and then I spotted my local vicar walking into the field and I thought, hmmm, what if… Each book in the series has grown from a character in one before.

Read my review of ‘Finding Sarah’ here

SoSmini

Can you tell us more about ‘Echoes of Nutt Hill series?

These are love stories based in a single village. Think Midsummer Murders, but with less murder. They’re rural and probably because of that, quite old fashioned. The first story, Finding Sarah, is about a woman whose marriage had broken down and moves to the village to make a fresh start. The second book, Sun on Sundays, is about the girl who takes over from Sarah on Nutt Hill after she leaves. The latest book, Chances Are, publishing on Monday, is about Luke, the brother of Tom, the hero in book 2 and the final one, still being written, is about the sister of the girl in book 2. All are independent, you just might recognise some of the characters.

Where do you write? Have you a photograph you can share with us?

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Sadly I’m not a fabulously wealthy JKR yet, so I’m on my laptop at the kitchen table with a spare chair to the side of me, covered in notepads and books. But I do have a wonderful view. You can see the other tat-covered chair in this shot, but you can also glimpse my latest manuscript having been cut and reordered over the weekend, after I had a chat with a policeman about procedure.

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What are the best things and the worst things about being a writer?

Best… network of online friends and satisfaction of creating something.

Worst… backache from writing and the pay!

What’s next for Wendy Lou Jones?

As you can see, I’m busy trying to sort out the final Nutt Hill story, but I’ve also started another book I’m very excited about – reason being: I explained the plot to my hubby and eldest son and both of them seemed impressed!!!?  I just hope I can do the idea justice.

Thanks for having me on, Jane. Always a pleasure to talk books.

The latest book in the  Echoes of Nutt Hill series is out  today. This is the third Echoes of Nutt Hill novel. Individual stories based in the small village of Lower Nutton, in the heart of the English countryside. Love will always blossom, but will it ripen in the sun or rot in the rain? Set against a landscape of farming and families who have lived in the same community for generations, her stories reflect the struggles of a few of their inhabitants, in the ups and downs of village life, where everyone knows everything and nothing stays private for long.

FS3

Poppy - Blurb

Luke is the man with the money, the fast car and the hot woman. There’s no way he would even think about getting serious, but a face he can’t remember soon threatens his calm.

Rebecca isn’t interested in a relationship, and definitely not with him. How could she, after all he put her through? She’s spent the last 4 years hiding away from society, a one woman crusade for children’s road safety. Who would have thought one fateful day, it might almost be her … again.

As two worlds collide, will opposites attract?

Not if she can help it.

Flowers - Buy Links

Finding Sarah 

Sun on Sundays

Poppy - Author Bio

Wendy Lou Jones was born and raised in West Sussex, in the south of England. At 18, she moved to Birmingham to study Medicine at University, where she was lucky enough to meet her husband. She worked in hospitals, general practice and palliative care before starting a family, at which point she took a step back from medical life to concentrate on being a mum.

She now lives in a little village in Herefordshire with her husband and two grubby boys and discovered a love of writing not long after their youngest son started school. And if you were to ask her what it was that made her make the switch, she would tell you quite simply, that it started with a dream.

 

Poppy - Links

 

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Amazon page

Posted in Author Interview, Book Spotlight

Debra J. Edwards – Author Interview

Author Interview

Did a specific event or person motivate you to become a writer? Can you tell us what happened?

As a primary school teacher, I once taught a class of 6-7 year olds. They were at an age when their baby teeth would become wobbly and fall out – often during the school day. They used to love telling me about it although it did drive me a little crazy at first. It got me thinking as to what a tooth fairy might do with the teeth, but as there were a few tooth fairy books out already I didn’t pursue the idea. But I couldn’t leave it alone so decided to put a different spin on it all using teenagers in the main character roles.

Are you a full time or part time writer?

Having taught in primary schools for 20 years, I am now happy to say that I write full time. Before, I worked through the day and early evening making it difficult to find time for writing. I had to squeeze in time after marking each evening which could result in very late nights. Weekends were wonderful though and meant I could find a little extra time during the days to write. I did try getting up very early to write, but that didn’t work for me. I’m just not a morning person.

What are the three best things about writing for you?

Tricky question as writing brings so much to writers. Okay…
I love how the stories in my head start to come to life as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard. Breathing life into a new character is so amazing. It’s great to see just how much they develop as the plot unfolds.
Writing brings me a great feeling of accomplishment. I was never an ‘A’ student at school so it gives me so much pleasure when my books are read and enjoyed. To think that the crazy characters in my head are being let loose on the world feels so good.
Being a writer is a somewhat lonely profession, but it has actually opened up a great social network for me. I belong to the SCBWI which means I get to talk to other writers about what I’m doing and attend numerous events where I can meet agents, publishers etc. I’m also a lively participant on Twitter where I to chat to other paranormal writers mostly, but also take part in YA chat hours.

You write books for children and young adults, what made you pick these genres?

Because I worked in a primary/elementary school, writing for children seemed a natural start to my writing career. I was able to try out my ideas on my target audience each day and they gave me great feedback. It wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, but that’s the whole point and it made me reconsider some plot points and refine my character development.
I had read a lot of young adult books and wondered if it was an age range I could move into. I’d always wanted to write a ghost story too. I thought it might be too scary for an MG audience, but not scary enough for adults so YA seemed to be the right range. In a way it was a gamble, but the story has been received well by the target audience. And because my previous MG readers are now older, they are forming a fanbase for my YA books.

Can you tell us about the books you have written?

I have three children’s fantasy novels published for the 8-12 year range although I have sold a lot to teenagers and adults. In fact, my oldest reader for these books is in her sixties! They are stories about a group of stroppy teenage tooth fairies and how they try to save their world.

Aggie Lichen Pilp Collector cover 1 JPG

Here’s the blurb for the first book:
Aggie Lichen faces the same dilemmas as any other thirteen year old; what to wear, how to keep out of trouble at school. But while other thirteen year olds are doing their homework or settling down to watch T.V., Aggie flits from house to house in search of prize pilps. That’s where Aggie is a little different. You see, Aggie Lichen is a pilp collector – a tooth fairy!
One nightsgritch – a tooth collecting evening – Aggie is attacked by a bright, mysterious light. Is it just a low flying glow worm or a bad tempered giant bluebottle? Or, as Aggie and her gang suspect, is it something more sinister?
Unknown to them, Aggie and her gang have just thirty days to solve the mystery and save their kind but time is not on their side … neither are the Sprites or the Grublins …

I also have a Tween/YA paranormal novel out, Marvin’s Curse. It tells the story of a 17 year old boy who has inherited the gift of speaking to ghosts from his dead dad. Here’s the blurb for it:

Final cover for Marvin Herbie Quote

How would you handle the dead?

After losing his dad, 17 year old Marvin finds he can see and talk to the dead, an inherited ‘gift’. Bonus, you might think, but Marvin hates it. It makes him different and he just wants to be ‘normal’. He meets Stella in the graveyard that backs onto the house he’s just moved into.

‘My name is Stella, Stella McCartney. It says so inside my trousers.’ (!?!)

A mysterious business card reveals that Stella has lost her memories and all signs point to Moghador, a gateway to hell where a pawnbroker holds the answers. Oh, and she’s dead!

Do you follow a set process to write your books? If so can you share it with us?

Not really a process as such. I tend to jot down ideas in a kind of mind map and add to that when other things come to me. I scribble notes as I go in a carefully selected notebook for that particular book. I’m very much a person who just writes things down when watching TV or in the car (not driving, of course!). I usually write the first draft, have a read through then move on to structural editing. For the first time, I’m using an editing workbook (Darcy Pattison – Novel Metamorphosis) to try and improve the process by using the exercises suggested. I have used a freelance editor for all my books to ensure that I haven’t missed any issues before the books are unleashed on the world.

What’s your favourite time of day to write? Why do you enjoy writing at this time?

I prefer to start writing around mid-morning. I’m not a particularly early riser and need a few cups of coffee before I can begin. It’s a time when I feel most awake and able to tackle the writing challenges of the day. I’m quite happy to write early evening too depending on where I am in my story. If I’m at a difficult part, I like to press on to see if I can solve the issue, if not, it waits until the next day – after the coffee though.

Do you have need to be alone to write?

Yes, if I am at home and I need quiet too. I like to keep the door shut on my study to keep any form of noise out. This can often be my dog barking for attention or music blasted out by my husband. But I also enjoy writing in cafes on cruise ships which is a complete contrast as there can be around 2000 people at any time on these ships.

Do you have a favourite writing space? 

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I write mostly in my study which looks out on to trees and greenery. It has a firm chair which means I have to sit up straight and focus. In a softer seat I tend to slouch and fall asleep… zzzzzzz!

What are you writing at the moment? What do you plan to write this year?

I’m currently editing another YA book, The Iron City. It’s kind of a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hunger Games – with dragons. In the book, it falls to a geeky teenage girl, Rae, to save the world from dragons. Here’s a snippet!

‘I am George, the original George as in George and the Dragon?’ said George, taking a Peter Pan stance. ‘And this is my trusted friend, Ascalon.’ He pulled a small wand like stick from his pocket. ‘…the dragon slaying lance.’
Rae stared hard at George then transferred her fierce look to the stick/lance he was holding. Then she burst out laughing. ‘Oh, please! George and the Dragon?’ She fell back against the tree. ‘Are you for real?’
George shook the stick several times. ‘It does that sometimes. It gets stuck. I think it’s all the crap it’s collected over the last few hundred years.’
‘Oh my god. You’re still talking, George,’ said Rae. ‘And it’s still just a stick. Look!’

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Krysten Lindsay Hager – Author Interview

Author Interview

Today  I have author Krysten Lindsay Hager on my blog, talking about her books, writing and her writing plans for the rest of the year. Krysten writes young adult and teen novels. It’s lovely to have you on my blog today Krysten.

 

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How did you become a writer? Do you write full time or in your leisure time?

I started out as a journalist and was writing fiction on the side, but now I do fiction full-time. I’ve been writing stories all my life and I think that stems from daydreaming a lot in class back when I was in grade school.

You write young adult and teen stories, which emphasise family values and the importance of friendship. What made you want to write in these particular genres?

I took the advice of, ‘You should write the book you’d want to read,” and went from there. I loved reading YA when I was a preteen and teen and those were the books I turned to when I was going through difficulties in my own life, so I kind of want to give back to the genre and do for someone else what amazing writers like Paula Danziger, Ann M. Martin, and Judy Blume did for me.

Can you describe your writing process if you have one?

I don’t have a regular process, but I edit as I go because it helps me get back into the flow of the story.

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Can you tell us a little about your latest release ‘Competing with the Star’, part of your ‘Star series’? Are there going to be more books in the series?

Competing with the Star deals with Hadley Daniels having her first boyfriend and all the insecurities that go along with that especially when his ex-girlfriend is still interfering and then finding out he once had a huge crush on teen TV star Simone Hendrickson—who just happens to be their neighbour and who is also into him. I put myself into Hadley’s shoes and imagined how I’d react if I found out my boyfriend now had a chance with his dream girl.
I’m finishing writing the follow-up book to it which will be titled: Aligning with the Star. There are some changes coming up for Hadley as she gets a chance to meet and be in a music video with her rock star crush. Can you imagine meeting your crush and he’s everything you imagined and more?

How important is writing in your life? Why do you enjoy it?

I can’t imagine not writing—it’s just what I do. I’m lucky to be able to have five books published, but even if I never got published I would continue to write. It’s a way to express myself and to help others deal with feelings they are having as well.

Do you have a dedicated work space? Can you describe it for us? 

I do my writing on a desk that is usually littered with pages that have been edited and need to go into the computer along with toys and little presents people have given me which cover the surface.

How important is an author’s social media presence? Do you have a favourite social media platform and why?

I think it’s a great way for readers to be able to connect with writers. I enjoy it. I love getting messages and comments from readers. I’m on all the social media sites.

Have you a favourite author, book or genre that you like to read?

I read a lot of non-fiction—lately I’ve been on a real non-fiction kick. I have been reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s work this past month. I lost my dad a few months ago and I tried grief books and honestly, those made things worse and I found her books to be helpful in dealing with my grief.

Apart from writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I like reading, shopping, watching TV and sports, and traveling—I can make anything into an adventure! Going for groceries? Let’s make it fun.

What’s next for Krysten Lindsay Hager?

I am finishing my book Aligning with the Star and also working on another teen novel that’s part of my Landry’s True Colors Series. In this one, Landry goes to New York City for a modelling job. I’m also working on a

new adult novel.

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BLURB

The perfect guy, the perfect location. What could go wrong?

Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect…

Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams—Nick Jenkins. He’s the kind of guy every girl swoons over, and it isn’t long until Hadley discovers some are still swooning.

A famous ex-girlfriend makes matters more complicated…

After some time dating, Hadley and Nick form a deep bond. But insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson.

The past is the past—or so they say…

Hadley confronts Nick, who confesses about his history with Simone. Though he claims to only have eyes for Hadley now, it’s hard to believe—especially when she’s blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school.

Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth. Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs soap opera drama when you’re busy competing with a star?

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Author Bio 2016 -1

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

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Interview and 5* Review:The Keepers: Ethan- Rae Rivers Blog Tour

Rae Tour Schedule

 Today I have the author of The Keepers Trilogy on my blog , Rae Rivers , who will be  talking to me about her writing and books.

Welcome Rae.

Author Interview

  Author PhotWhat inspired you to start writing, Rae?

I’ve always had a love of storytelling. At first, it was something I did as a child when I needed to escape into my imaginary world where I had control over everything and could just have fun. As I grew older, the need to tell more stories grew stronger. It’s my calling, my passion, and one of the few things in my life that makes me feel alive with excitement. I love it!

Was becoming a published author important to you?

The older I got and the more I wrote, the more I enjoyed it. I began to wonder if my work was “good enough” to be considered for publication but as I never allowed anyone to read it (not even my husband or mother!) I had no feedback to work with. So when I finally plucked up the courage to submit my Keepers to a publisher and they offered a four book deal, I was thrilled. Slowly, my inner voice became an encouraging “I’ve got this.” I knew I had a lot to learn but they believed in me so that was huge! (And still is! ) So yes, for me being published – along with the incredible feedback from my readers – has been a huge confidence boost which has helped me grow as a person and a writer and turn a hobby into a dream career.

Series cover‘The Keepers: Ethan is your latest release and I think the last book in the series. Are you sad to reach the end, or is there going to be more books in the series?

The Keepers: Ethan is the end of the series and it’s with a bittersweet feeling that I wrap up this journey. I’ve worked with these characters for over three years and most of the time, they were at the forefront of my mind – it often felt like I was greeting old friends whenever I started my writing morning. Whilst writing all the books, there was some angst and stress (and sometimes tears too!) but I had the time of my life too. I’m delighted to reach the end of this journey and feel tremendously satisfied with how it all came together in the end, but I do feel a bit sad to say goodbye.

Do you have a special place where you like to write? Do you have a photograph of it to share with us?

I lMy office picive on a flower farm in the mountains so my surroundings are so inspirational. It’s quiet and peaceful and so perfect for an author. I have a home office which is kitted out with everything I need. It’s sunny and bright in the summer and dark and cosy in the winter. It’s my space, my haven, and I love it. But having said that, I’m also quick to grab my laptop and head for the outdoor patio, couch or even my bed. And with small children, I might even write beside the swimming pool too.

Is your writing process well defined or haphazard? Can you describe it?

Garden readingI think it’s a little of both. I had an overall outline for the entire series with certain highlights I wanted to reach – and a whole of blank spaces in between. But those blank spaced gave me room to create as I went along and I think the books turned out better because of them. Sometimes I write quickly and end up with a messy scene which I then have to carefully craft into a stronger one. Other times, I take a step back and plan a little more. As I’ve gained more experience, I tend to want to plan a bit more to ensure I’ve covered everything and given my characters and plot all the elements that make a good story.

Paranormal isn’t the only genre you write – you have also written a romantic suspense novel. Which genre appeals most to you as a writer and why is this?

I’m definitely a romance writer at heart but also love action and suspense too. I never thought I’d venture into the Paranormal scene until the day Sienna and her Keepers came to mind. Now I adore the genre as it gives me a lot of freedom to be creative. The rules can be shaped as I want and the possibilities for my “worlds” are endless. And best of all is that I’m able to combine my love of romance and suspense with the paranormal.

Apart from writing do you have any other things you love to do?

Definitely reading, movies and TV series! I enjoy the outdoors like waterskiing, hiking, boating etc. I love travelling – anywhere from a camp site to a fab hotel. I like a balance between socialising with friends and family, nights spent at home with my kids and hubby– and also having time alone.

What writing plans do you have for 2016?

I’m toying with various ideas and mapping out a plot line for another possible series. I’ve opened myself to the fictional world waiting for the story to take hold. For now, I’m wrapped up in Ethan’s release and school holidays but know when things settle down, there’ll be no stopping me. Watch this space!

 

Ethan Cover

Paranormal Blurb

 “Going to Ameera to find Hazel. Stealing the spell … You think you can pull it off?” he asked.
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
Just as she thought he’d kiss her, he reached for her jacket and said, “Then let’s go.”

A portal to another world has opened, unleashing dangerous creatures on earth. A dark witch is out for revenge. The stakes are high, a war inevitable.

One person can stop the madness. Jenna. She’s a Keeper to a powerful hybrid witch but she harbours a secret and if Jenna steps through the portal – seduced by the whispers of her hidden past – she may never return.

Fortunately, she has company … infamous Bennett brother and fiercely protective Keeper, Ethan. Their whip-cracking banter makes them perfect sparring partners in training, but how will they manage when their lives and everything they were born to defend are on the line?

When the battle lines are drawn, will Jenna and Ethan stand side by side – as friends, protectors, lovers … or as traitors?

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Paranormal My Review
If you’re a fan of The Keepers series, you will have eagerly anticipated ‘The Keepers: Ethan, I’ve just finished reading and it doesn’t disappoint.
All the players assemble for the final apocalyptic battle and there are so many twists and turns it leaves you breathless. Jenna and Ethan circle around each other, the only two singles on the Bennett Wine estate, drawn together by proximity and the dangers they face, the passion is sensual and adds a delicious sizzle to this action packed story.
Jenna who we met in ‘The Keepers: Declan’ is kick ass and her independence attracts Ethan, who still bears the guilt of his sister’s demise. Ethan, quieter than his brothers, has a determined, powerful presence that attracts Jenna and makes her heart rule her head.
Their journey into Ameera is exciting and informative, and gives the series an important new dimension, which increases the suspense and excitement. Ameera is a dark world, full of lost and often dangerous creatures that live in anarchy, the danger to humanity lies here and Jenna and Ethan have to face it head on. The supernatural displays are vivid and easy to imagine and I couldn’t put this book down until I’d finished.
There is a dynamic, romantic ending to this unique series, with memorable characters that I’m sorry to leave.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Author Bio -1

Rae’s an avid reader and writer with a passion for writing spicy romance novels. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her gorgeous children and husband and a zoo of house pets. Besides writing, she loves family time, the outdoors, travelling, watching TV series, reading and chocolate.She loves to hear from her readers and can be found here:

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Author Interview: Amy Reece- 5* Review – The Way to Her Heart

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THE WAY TO HER HEART by Amy Reece 

YA Romantic Suspense

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Mystery Thriller Blurb

Will a mysterious disappearance bring two broken hearts together…or tear them apart?

No amount of counseling can bring Josh Harris back to his old self. 

 After a tragedy that changed his life forever, eighteen-year-old Josh has lived in a year-long fog of medication and confusion. It’s all he can do to not think about his dad—a culinary genius who raised him in the kitchen. Thankfully, Josh inherited his golden palate and sixth sense for cooking, which is the only thing that makes sense anymore. 

 For a seventeen-year-old girl, life can’t get much worse… 

 Bernie Abeyta is a senior in high school and lives with her drug-addicted mother, but has managed to keep her grades up so she can get into college. With her father in prison and her mom’s sleazy boyfriend getting too close for comfort, Bernie turns to her best friend Gabby Rodriguez for help, but discovers Gabby has gone missing. Distressed over her friend’s sudden disappearance, Bernie resorts to living out of her car while she looks for answers and tries to avoid foster care. 

 Part love, part mystery, part cookbook—and all heart. 

 During economics class, Josh finds himself captivated by his new project partner, Bernie. As they grow closer, he insists Bernie move in with him and his mother. Furthermore, he offers to help look for Gabby. 

 Bernie refuses to believe Gabby ran away, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery—no matter how great the danger to herself. 

 Will Bernie’s gritty life be too much for Josh to handle? Or will he fight for The Way to Her Heart?

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

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Mystery Thriller My Review

 

Thrown together by a school project, social opposites, Bernie and Josh share a background of pain and heartbreak, from different causes. Told through two points of view, the reader gets to see how the emotional attachment between Bernie and Josh grows, experiencing their ups and downs.
Bernie is a lovely character, who like so many teens today, comes from a background of abuse and neglect. Revealed in a poignant but not graphic way, this story is perfect for the intended age group.
Recovering from a devastating loss Josh withdraws from the world until Bernie’s needs force him to live again, to help her. His special talent gives the story authenticity and draws Bernie into his world. The recipes at the end of the book are a lovely touch; I was hungry all the way through this story.
The suspense element could be stronger but there is enough mystery and menace to add an interesting dimension to the story. The characters complexity and development make this enthralling and I loved the supernatural twist.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

 

Excerpt -2
October

Josh

She cut her hair. Josh realized he was staring at the girl in the next row and pulled his gaze back to his notebook as the teacher droned on about supply and demand curves. I don’t care for short hair on girls. Yet he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He didn’t even know her name. On Friday her hair had been long, the silky black tresses reaching below her shoulder blades. Today, he could see the back of her neck. He could see how long and slender it was and watched as she reached around to feel it, seeming surprised, perhaps still unused to the short cut. She pushed the long front layer behind her ear. The purple streak is kind of cute, though. He once again forced his gaze back to his notes, reminding himself that he had a girlfriend; a beautiful girlfriend with long blonde hair. Focus, Harris. Get your mind off the pretty girl with the short hair. She was pretty. He’d always thought so, even though he didn’t know her name. He’d heard it; wasn’t it something weird? Enough! Supply, demand. That’s all you need to think about.

“So, for the next few weeks you will be paired up with one of your classmates as we launch a new project designed to help you experience some of what it takes to create and stick to a household budget.” Mr. Griego picked up a stack of index cards from his desk. “I have created a scenario with careers and incomes for each couple. Some of you have children, and some don’t. Every few days you will get a new financial situation you have to deal with. Each week of this project will be the equivalent of one month for your budget. You will turn in a complete six month budget, along with a written report at the end of the project. Each couple will also give a five-minute oral presentation.” He started calling names and handing out index cards. There were groans and titters of laughter as the names were called because some of the couples were same-sex. “Josh Harris and Bernie Abeyta.” No one in the class said anything or laughed at the pairing. Josh wasn’t surprised; he had pretty much fallen off the radar over a year ago. He stood and walked to the front of the room to retrieve the index card.

“Who’s Bernie Abeyta?” he asked quietly. Great. I’m paired with a guy. Just what I needed.

The girl with the short, purple hair raised her hand. “Me.” She sounded bored.

“Okay. I’m, uh, I’m Josh.” He stood in front of her desk, awkwardly shifting from side to side.

“Yeah. I’m Bernie.” She glanced up quickly, meeting his gaze, then looked away.

“You have the last fifteen minutes of class to exchange contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, whatever you need to get in touch with your partner. Most of the project work will need to be on your own time as you will need to visit grocery stores and do some online research,” Mr. Griego said.

Josh sat down in the newly vacated desk in front of Bernie. “So.” He waved the index card. “One of us is a teacher and the other is an attorney. Which do you want to be?”

Bernie shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter to me. You choose.”

He looked at her, a half-smile on his face. Close-up he noticed that she had beautiful, smooth, light-brown skin and her eyes were so dark they looked black. She didn’t wear much makeup; she didn’t need to. “Fine. I’ll be the teacher. You can be the attorney.” She looked up quickly. “Is that okay?”

She shrugged again. “Sure. It doesn’t matter. Do we have kids?”

“Yeah, we have two: an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. So, I guess we should exchange phone numbers and email.” He scrawled his information on a page of his notebook and tore it out, handing it to her.

She took the page, staring at it blankly for a moment before tearing a piece of paper out of her own notebook. “Here’s my email.”

He looked at it. “What’s your cell number?”

“I don’t have one. Just the email.”

“Oh. Okay.” Josh had never heard of anyone his age who didn’t have a cell phone. “So, do you want to get together tonight to get started on this? We could meet at my house. Or yours. Whatever you want.”

“Yours. Here.” She pushed the paper back at him. “Write your address. I have to work until seven. I can be there around seven-thirty. Is that okay?” She didn’t meet his eyes.

“Uh, sure. That’s fine. Here.” He handed the paper back. “Do you need a ride or anything?”

“No.”

“Oh. Great. So, I’ll, uh, see you tonight. I guess.” He had never been so tongue-tied around a girl.

“Yeah.” She turned her attention back to her notebook, clearly dismissing him.

Josh returned to his seat, chagrined. I seem to have lost my touch. Then again, he hadn’t really been trying very hard for a long time. He used to be much better at this whole thing: friends, girls, talking. Now he simply didn’t have the energy anymore. It was October of his senior year and he was biding his time until he could graduate and move on with his life. She’s really pretty, though. He groaned inwardly as he packed his notebook and shouldered his backpack. He knew he had no business noticing how pretty his new partner was; he should be thinking about how gorgeous his girlfriend had looked in her cheerleading uniform that morning during the pep rally. She was beautiful, sweet, and had stuck by him through a seriously dark time in his life. He had really been phoning it in lately with Kayleigh. Jeez, he could do better. He merged with the flow of humanity in the hallway, determined to do right by her, starting tomorrow at lunch.

 
Author Interview

Here’s my interview with Amy, who was great fun to interview.

 Have you always enjoyed writing? Why do you enjoy it?

I have definitely always enjoyed writing, but for many years I was focused on academic writing as I did two master degrees back-to-back. I don’t know why I did that. It was one of the more idiotic things I’ve done. Can you say stress? Fiction is so much more fun! As to why I enjoy writing, I guess it must be because I feel like the puppet master when I create my own stories. I can make everyone do whatever I want (insert maniacal cackle here) until the characters rebel and do his or her own thing.

Did any one person or event make you decide to write? If so, can you tell us why?

This is a bit of a mixed bag. There were two events really: NaNoWriMo and my youngest daughter leaving for college. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2013, which was also the year my youngest chick spread her wings and flew away to college in Texas—10 hours away from her momma! We won’t talk about how I was filling a hole with writing, but I wrote the first (terrible) draft of ‘Seeker’ that November and discovered I LOVED to write.

What influenced you to write Young Adult (YA) stories? You have written a YA paranormal series and now a YA romantic suspense. Which genre do you prefer and why?

I started writing YA because I was doing NaNoWriMo with my high school English class—I am a teacher in my day job—and I wanted to write something I would feel comfortable with them reading. Plus, since I spend every weekday in a high school, I have lots of great material! I really enjoyed both genres—paranormal and romantic suspense—and don’t have a real preference. I approach my projects through the characters and whatever seems to need to happen in their lives is what I write. Sometimes that’s paranormal and sometimes not. So far everything I’ve written and am writing includes a mystery, however, so I think that is where my strongest preference rests.

Do you have a writing den? Can you describe your writing space?

Part of me really wants to describe my dream writing den, which I will someday create in the spare bedroom, but honesty compels me to tell the truth. My writing den (I’m sitting here now) is the left half of the love-seat in my family room. It is a huge brown love-seat (Hagrid would love it) that I can curl up in with my laptop. I have a side table piled high with books, notebooks, heating pad, lip gloss, nail polish (for writer’s block), and whatever I happen to be drinking at the moment. Right now it’s a chocolate/peanut butter/banana protein shake. The health kick will almost certainly be over by noon and will never make it to the workout stage.

What’s your favourite time of day to write? Or, do you just write when you can?

I’m almost certain my favorite (notice my American spelling as opposed to Jane’s British—so much fun!!!)time of day to write is smack in the middle of the day, but my silly day job insists I teach impressionable young minds at that time. So I write in the late afternoon and evening. I’m fairly disciplined about it, which is surprising since I’m not disciplined about anything else.

Your paranormal series looks really exciting, can you tell us a little about it and the inspirations behind it?

Thanks for saying that! I, of course, agree. Like I said before, I start with characters and then see what kind of adventure they need to have. ‘The Seeker Series’ really started with Jack’s character and the inspiration behind him. I had a student a few years ago very similar to Jack—he returned to high school after dropping out and making some really questionable choices—and I admired him for his determination to turn his life around. I wanted to have my hero struggling against a bad-boy image and find a special girl who bothered to look deeper. Ally’s character was inspired quite a bit by my youngest daughter. She shares Ally’s vegetarian disposition as well as her sometimes snarky outlook on life.

What about your latest book, what’s that about and why did you decide to write a romantic suspense story?

‘The Way to Her Heart’ was inspired by another student who, like Bernie, found himself homeless for a large portion of the school year. It’s really tough to care about grades when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep that night or what you’re going to eat. Josh’s character was inspired by yet another student whose father died very suddenly in the middle of the year. Horrible things happen to kids and they are expected to move on and continue in school, getting good grades, etc. As to why it became a romantic suspense—I don’t know. I always gotta have a mystery.

Have you written any other types of books, or do you plan to in the future?

I have a featured story on Wattpad right now that is a YA romance called ‘Like Wildfire’. It’s a modern take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (I did say I’m an English teacher) and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a mystery, but it’s much more romance-oriented. My oldest daughter (also a high school English teacher) is working on revisions of it right now and we hope to turn it into a series called Shakespeare High or something like that.

My two current works-in-progress include a prequel to The Way to Her Heart—the love story of Josh’s parents—and an adult contemporary romantic suspense. It is my first foray into non-YA writing! Woohoo! I have no idea what I’ll do about the sex scenes. My mother reads everything I write, so…

I know you love reading, what do you read to relax?

I absolutely love Regency romances. There. I said it. Some day I’ll write one of my own. I also love just about anything by Nora Roberts. And Julia Quinn. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be one of those writers that people say, “Ooh! Another one by Amy Reece? Who cares what it’s about? I’ll read anything by her.” Dream big!

My tastes are pretty eclectic and I never know what I’ll be reading next. I’m also reading my BFF’s NaNo novel, The Red Boots, which is fantastic and she BETTER finish it! Limitless would love it.

What do you consider are the best things about being a writer and why?

The creative freedom is definitely amazing, but I also love all the writer friends I’ve made since this crazy journey began. Who would have dreamed I’d be answering author interview questions to be featured on Jane Hunt’s blog??? I love reading my fellow author friends’ books and talking to them about writing. This is a great community and I’m honored to be part of it.
All that is great, but never underestimate the power of holding your own book in your hands and knowing people—strangers—are reading and talking about your book. I had a book signing at Barnes and Noble on Saturday and a young girl came up to my table and picked up Seeker. She grabbed it purposefully and handed it to me to sign. I was a bit surprised and asked her if she’d read the back and knew what it was about. She said, “Oh yeah. I already know. My teacher told us all about it.” Wow. Just wow. And, no, I didn’t know the teacher. It was soooo cool.

I definitely agree with you there Amy that’s lovely. Thank you for such an entertaining interview, I really enjoyed it. 🙂

Author Bio

Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She believes red wine and coffee are the elixirs of life and lead to great inspiration. She is the author of The Seeker Series (YA paranormal) and The Way to Her Heart (YA romantic suspense).

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