Pages

 

Favourite books read in 2016

In absolutely no order whatsoever, here are my favourite books I read in 2016:
Favourite books read in 2016Favourite books read in 2016Favourite books read in 2016

Favourite books read in 2016Favourite books read in 2016Favourite books read in 2016

What were your favourite reads of the year? x

Writer Wednesday: Christina Philippou

Christina Philippou's writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance. When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation. Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy. Lost in Static is her first novel, published by Urbane Publications.

Christina is also the founder of the contemporary fiction author initiative, Britfic.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I've always loved writing - and, when I was an awkward teen and I told my grandmother that I loved writing poetry, she told me a wonderful story of how she used to do this while watching the goats (she grew up in a secluded village in pre-WW2 Greece). That one story conjured up so many images and inspired me for life, taking me from being someone who writes to thinking of myself as a writer.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Editing. I’m an intricate plotter (I love my spreadsheets – please don’t judge!), and first draft writing flows well once I know where I’m going, but the editing... Ugh! It doesn’t help that I’m a grammar and factual accuracy pedant, which means hours of trawling my scripts for inconsistencies and wrong word usage.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Plotting. I love sitting down with a basic idea and adding layers until I have enough for a multi-faceted story with complex characters and a normally serious (despite the levity in my writing) theme.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It’s raw, it’s pacy, it’s complex, and it’s so beautifully written that, if you weren’t paying attention, you could miss the beautiful writing that underpins the (OK, OK, very dark) story.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
Hard question. I think fictional calamity serves its purpose and strengthens my characters so I’d probably leave them to it as most come out OK (if a little scarred) in the end.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Just one??? I’d probably go solve a mystery with Sherlock Holmes, although I’d probably regret it when he made me look stupid. I have a thing about flawed characters, and a drug-taking, paranoid, overly-self-centred genius fits the bill perfectly.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
My next novel is somewhat darker, although some of the levity is still there…

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I wish someone had bothered telling me to ‘stop procrastinating and just do it’ and I would have probably written my first novel far sooner. Know the writing rules and then consciously break them is another.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
There is no typical writing day. There is a ‘squeeze in some writing at some point between looking after three small children, doing a full-time job, and managing everything else going on in my life’. It sometimes works. 

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
Balancing fiction (Half Wild by Sally Green) with non-fiction (Fraud, Corruption and Sport by Graham Brooks, Azeem Aleem, and Mark Button).

*

Sometimes growing up is seeing someone else's side of the story. Four stories. One truth. Whom do you believe?

Callum has a family secret. Yasmine wants to know it. Juliette thinks nobody knows hers. All Ruby wants is to reinvent herself.

They are brought together by circumstance, torn apart by misunderstanding. As new relationships are forged and confidences are broken, each person's version of events is coloured by their background, beliefs and prejudices. And so the ingredients are in place for a year shaped by lust, betrayal, and violence...

Lost in Static is the gripping debut from author Christina Philippou. Whom will you trust?
Follow Christina on Twitter | Buy Lost in Static on Amazon |
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

Writer Wednesday: Tom Williams

Tom used to write books for business, covering everything from the gambling industry to new developments in printing technology. Now he writes about love and adventure in the 19th century, which is not nearly as well paid, but much more fun. It also allows him to pretend that travelling in the Far East and South America is research. Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which he does quite well.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I have no idea. I won a writing competition when I was about ten years old, so it's been something I've always wanted to do.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Actually putting the words on the paper. Simply typing out eighty or ninety thousand words is just horrible.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
I write historical novels and I love the research. Going to places where the stories are set is great fun too. For 'Burke in the Land of Silver' I went to Argentina and went riding with the gauchos (Argentine cowboys) like he does in the story. And we took horses up into the snow on the Andes too. That was unforgettable.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Every so often I come across a book that is just wonderful and it's so frustrating to know I will never write like that. Just after I finished writing 'Back Home', I read Sarah Waters' 'Fingersmith'. In 'Back Home' I write about poverty in London in the mid-19th century and a lot of the scenes in her book are similar to things I wrote about, but she just does it so incredibly well. 'Back Home' has been very well-received, but I wish I thought it could ever be nearly as good as 'Fingersmith'. (Tom's review here.)

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
 Some of my characters die. I'm not saying which ones, because that's a major spoiler. But some of the deaths have made me cry. I'd save all of them.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
When I was a child my father introduced me to Leslie Charteris's 'Saint' books. The first 'Saint' story was written in 1928. The Saint was Simon Templar, an urbane Robin Hood figure who stole from rich crooks and other bad guys and redistributed his booty (less 10%) to the deserving poor. I still read them occasionally: they're the sticky toffee pudding and custard of fiction. Templar was always charming and liked to live well. I'd do whatever he suggested (his friends in the books always did). It would involve a romantic location, fine dining, a beautiful woman and the chance to hold a gun and watch him doing something dangerous and cunning, after which a multi-millionaire would have one fewer yachts and a pension fund for his employees would receive a substantial anonymous donation. It was a simpler world, especially in the vastly superior pre-World War stories. It wasn't really a better world, but it was one I'd enjoy to visit in his company.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I'm working on another about my Napoleonic spy, James Burke. This time he's fighting the French in Spain. 

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
An agent took me on and I was about to celebrate when I realised that he would drop me if he couldn't sell the book (and drop me he did), so I should not break out the champagne. He said that a writer should celebrate every success in advance and mourn the failures when they came along, because writing gave all-too-few opportunities to celebrate.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
Trying to put off any actual writing (see my answer to your second question). Replying to questionnaires like this is a good way to duck any real work.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I usually have several things on the go at once. At the moment I'm reading 'The Making of the English Working Class' by EP Thompson. (I did say I love research.) Unusually for me, I'm also reading a modern autobiography: 'Mr Nice' by Howard Marks, the cannabis smuggler. Generally I read a lot of crime thrillers. I just finished the rather weird 'Double You' by Nell Peters. I read it because I know her (we share a publisher) but it's rather good (Tom's review here) so I've started the next in the series, 'Santa's Slay'.

Follow Tom on Twitter | Buy his books on Amazon |
Like him on Facebook | Visit his website

Writer Wednesday: Cassandra Parkin

Writer Wednesday: Cassandra Parkin
Cassandra Parkin is an East Yorkshire writer with Cornish roots and a passion for fairy-tales. Her debut short story collection, New World Fairy Tales won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. Her bestselling debut novel, The Summer We All Ran Away was nominated for the Amazon Rising Stars award and her second novel, The Beach Hut, was a WHSmith summer bestseller. Her third novel, Lily's House, will be published in October 2016.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to live across the road from the country’s most gorgeous public library; Anlaby Park Library in Hull. It looks like a little secret cottage nestled in the middle of a village green. I wanted very much to go and live there (in fact I only went home when they closed) and from the love of reading came a love of writing.

I decided I was going to be a writer when I was about six, but accidentally ended up going into FMCG Marketing instead, because it paid well and student loans are terrifying. I volunteered for every possible project with a vague requirement for writing skills, and wrote short stories and novels for my friends in the backs of my notebooks during meetings. The next fifteen years of my life were essentially everyone who knew me telling me “Um, you do know that what you really want to be is a writer, yes? I mean, you are aware of this?” and me replying, “la la la, can’t hear you, not good enough, world doesn’t need another struggling author, bills to pay, ‘kaythanksbye”. Looking back, I can see how this must have been annoying.

I finally took the plunge when I wrote a collection of short stories for six very dear friends in America. Each short story was based on the favourite fairy-tale of the recipient. They all ganged up and me and insisted that I try and get it published. So I entered New World Fairy Tales for Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize for short stories. To my utter astonishment, it won, and shortly after my first novel The Summer We All Ran Away was published by Legend Press, and shortlisted for the Amazon Rising Stars award. The moral of this particular fairy-tale is probably listen to your friends and family, because they know what they are talking about.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Sharing something that’s not finished! Some writers thrive on writing groups and feedback. I do not. I am absolutely, 100% the “hide in a cave and deny all knowledge until everything is exactly the way I want it to be” type of writer. The literary image I relate to most strongly is Jane Austen’s squeaky door that gave her time to hide away her work before anyone saw it.

However, as my writing career progresses, I’m being asked to share my work at much earlier stages. It makes me cringe. Every time. Sometimes I have to get other people to press “send” on the email for me because I can’t bring myself to do it.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Oh, so much to choose from! I love editing – taking a rubbishy first draft and making it into something good. I love writing beginnings, and endings. For every project I have five or six key sections that I really look forward to writing, and they’re like little oases scattered throughout the first draft. Most of all, I love the moments when the characters suddenly come to life and I feel as if it’s them telling the story, not me. Of course, that’s an illusion, but illusions can also be real.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
The “Alice” books. Wonderland and Looking-Glass Land. I truly believe 1865 is a watershed year for creative thinkers across the world; there’s Before Alice, and After Alice. Her influence is everywhere – in books of course, but also in films and TV series, in art and music, in theoretical physics, in evolutionary theory, in politics and economics… I was lucky enough to do a TEDx talk about this a couple of years ago. One of the best moments of my life.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?  
I’d save Finn, from my second novel The Beach Hut. It’s a story about the special magic of the sibling bond, and Finn reminds me of my own little brother (who is taller than me and has two children and his own engineering company, but is still “little” in my head).

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
I’d visit Tove Jansson’s Moomin family. They’re very welcoming to unexpected visitors, they know the importance of making space for creative pursuits, they understand and embrace the sadness of life as well as the joys, and they’re simply excellent in a crisis. Also, their house and garden sound magical.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
My third novel Lily’s House was published by Legend Press in October this year. It’s the story of Jen and her daughter Marianne, who have returned to the house of Jen’s grandmother Lily, to clear it out after Lily’s death, and the family skeletons that come tumbling out of the closet as they do so.

For my next book, I’m working on a very dark and creepy Christmas project, following in a long tradition of Christmas-Eve ghost stories.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few schools and colleges to talk about writing – which I always find very strange and humbling, because I still feel as if I’m right at the start of the journey myself. Here are the things I always tell them:

- Writing happens when you use both your head and your hands. It’s a physical act. Don’t try and tell the story in your head. Get it out onto paper.

- Beginnings are easy. Endings are easy. The bit in the middle is the tough part. When you get to Chapter Four and think, “Now what?” – we’ve all been there. The difference between writers and wannabes is that writers don’t give up. Keep going.

- Write something every day. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when every word is flat and dull. Even when you don’t know why you’re bothering. Nothing’s wasted. A bad first draft can be cut and polished later, but you need something to work on. Keep going.

- Some days writing is the best fun ever. Some days it just kind of sucks. That’s how it is for everyone, so make your peace with this and accept it. Marathon runners don’t enjoy every training run either. Keep going.

- You will learn something from everything you write. If your first novel isn’t published, write a second. It will be better. If that’s not accepted, write a third. Keep going.

- The more beautiful your notebook, the less willing you will be to pollute it with the messy, untamed horror that is a first draft. If it makes your heart happy, go ahead and buy that beautiful notebook; but know that it is for looking at, not for writing in. Writing is not a pretty process. And that’s okay.

- Unlike actors, dancers and even musicians, there’s no such thing as “too old” to start. You haven’t left it too late. Start today. And keep going.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
When I’m writing a first draft, I write between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day, depending on how much freelance work I have on at the same time. Some days the words come easily, and some days it’s like pulling teeth while balancing on a tightrope!

I start with an outline that I build using sheets of paper and post-it notes. Each sheet of paper is a chapter, and each post-it note is a plot point. Once I have this plan, I guard it like it’s the world’s last viable dragon-egg and it has to go everywhere with me. However, I very rarely refer to my plan, and the final version will always differ wildly from the original. I suppose it’s more of a comfort object.

I work standing up using a cheap-and-cheerful desk converter on top of my dining room table – better for your back, your blood pressure, everything really – and I can directly correlate how well my writing is going with how clean and tidy my house is. When I’m pleased with my day’s work, I can easily convince myself that it’s charmingly bohemian to have books and papers on every available surface, blankets and cushions all over the floor, and cats everywhere. When I can’t even bear to look at what I’ve written, I clean the house, basically so I can think “Well, AT LEAST MY HOUSE IS CLEAN SO THERE’S THAT” and feel comforted.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I’m savouring every word of the utterly exquisite short story collection “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” by Haruki Murakami. The novel I’m most in love with at the moment is “Owl Song At Dawn”, by fellow Legend author Emma Claire Sweeney. It’s beautiful, poignant and simply gorgeous.

*

Lily's House Cassandra Parkin
When Jen goes to her grandmother's house for the last time, she's determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won't be any reconciliation.

Lily's gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily's house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present - and discover how dangerous we become when we're trying to protect the ones we love.


Follow Cassandra on Twitter | Buy Lily's House on Amazon |
Visit her website

Writer Wednesday: Alli Sinclair

Alli Sinclair Writer Wednesday
Alli Sinclair is a multi award-winning author of books that combine travel, mystery, and romance. An adventurer at heart, Alli has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and immersed herself in an array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. Alli’s stories capture the romance and thrill of exploring new destinations and cultures that also take readers on a journey of discovery.

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
My grandmother is the best storyteller I know and so I grew up listening to her fantastical stories, enthralled by the adventures of the characters she made up off the top of her head. I also developed a love for books at an early age and so it was a natural progression for me to try my hand at writing stories when I was a kid. I would often be found with a pen in hand or my head in a book. I spent most of my twenties travelling the world and working as a mountain guide so I didn’t have much time to write stories, but I kept very detailed travel diaries. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties, when a radio journalist interviewed me about my travels that I started thinking about trying my hand at writing once more. I saw a travel writing competition, entered it, and won and I got such a thrill that I decided to enroll in a creative writing course.

Fast forward to ten years and four manuscripts later and my first book was published. That was in 2014 and since then I have been contracted for many more books with publishers around the world. It is now my full time job and I absolutely love and appreciate the fact that I get to write books for a living and I can share these with readers from all over the world. The readers, I must say, are the highlight for me. It is so lovely to know when a story touches someone, makes them laugh or cry, or helps them escape their troubles. That, above all, is the main reason I became a writer—to take people on a journey into another world.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
The first draft by far is the toughest part for me. I am a planner, so I have very detailed outlines but sometimes I do stray if an idea pops into my head. And even though I am meticulous in figuring out who my characters are and what they want before I start the first draft, I often find I don’t really know them properly until my second, third, or even fourth draft. For me a first draft equals the pain of pulling teeth!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
The readers! I love interacting with people who have enjoyed my books. The reading community is so diverse and I have met and spoken with people from from various parts of the world. I just love it!

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
I would love to have written A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It’s such a beautiful, culturally rich story set in India that spans generations and takes in a lot of India’s history. The storyline is so complicated that there is an “event” timeline and family tree at the beginning of the book so the reader doesn’t get lost! I am in awe of how this book is written and no matter how many times I read it, I’m still drawn into this gorgeous world and the wonderful characters.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
Why would I save them when their calamity is what makes a reader turn the page or burst into tears? Ha! Joking! Hmmm … Without giving the story away, there is one character in Under the Spanish Stars who has a very sad life and loses their only chance at happiness. They spend a lot of time questioning decisions they’ve made and trying to figure out where they went wrong. By the time they realise what to do and how to change things, it’s way too late. It breaks my heart!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do?
I would love to hang out with Delilah Drummond in Deanna Raybourn’s book, A Spear of Summer Grass. Set in Africa in 1923, Delilah is outspoken, non-traditional, and an absolute rebel. She brings disgrace on her family and is sent to Africa while things quiet down in Paris. When she gets there, she discovers a whole new world and the wildness of Africa actually tames her and starts her on a journey of self-discovery. I would love to sit on the deck of Delilah’s house and drink gin with her as we gaze out on the oranges and red of the sunset, talking about love, life, and the universe. I also wouldn’t mind spending some time in the company of Delilah’s neighbor Ryder White, but he only has eyes for Delilah! 

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I have a new book coming out with Kensington Books in July 2017 called Under the Parisian Sky. Like Under the Spanish Stars, my next book will have a contemporary and historical storyline and will involve a family saga, decades old mystery, and have a rich and colourful setting that will take the reader on an adventure into a gorgeous land.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
There is so much great advice out there but it is often conflicting and what works for one person may not work for another. My suggestion is to take what you feel is right for you and give it a try. If it doesn’t work, there are plenty more ways for you to try again. Publishing is a landscape that is forever changing, so it really helps if you are able to be flexible, willing to give things a shot and pick yourself up if it doesn’t work out. The next time may be the time you hit the mark and get a bullseye. In other words, don’t ever give up if this is your dream. Oh, and I will add, read, read, read and write, write, write! Everything helps you hone your skills and you will find that each book your write, you will improve. Time is a very good friend when it comes to developing your writing skills.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I live in Australia and my agent is in the USA so she’s working while I’m asleep! I often wake up, check emails (and pray that there’s good news if I have any submissions out!), then get ready for the day. I take the kids to school (they are still quite young) then it’s into my home office where I’ll work on my book for six hours (if I stay off Facebook!). In between I’ll wash and dry clothes or cook dinner (it’s such a glamorous life!), answer emails and do any general admin work. Then it’s off to pick up the kids and take them to any extra-curricular activities they might have. Dinner and homework for the kids then if I’m on deadline it’s back to the desk. Of course, there is always time to chat to hubby and friends and the odd glass of wine! I try to take weekends off but sometimes it’s impossible if there’s a deadline or an idea comes into my head and I need to get it down before I forget!

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I’ve just started reading The Three Miss Allens by Australian author Victoria Purman. She normally writes coastal romances and this is her first foray into historical fiction and she’s absolutely nailed it. I’m really loving the story and characters and I’m looking forward to delving into as soon as I get a chance!


Under the Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair
Amid the vivid beauty of Granada, a woman entrusted with unravelling a family secret will discover the truth about her heritage-- and the alluring promise of love… 

When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Charlotte Kavanagh will do whatever she asks of her-- even if it means travelling to a country that broke her abuela's heart. Can an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer unlock the secrets of her grandmother's youth in Spain? To find the answers she needs, Charlotte must convince the charismatic and gifted musician, Mateo Vives to introduce her to a secluded gypsy clan. 

The enigmatic Mateo speaks the true language of flamenco, a culture Charlotte must learn to appreciate if she wants to understand her grandmother's past-- and the flamenco legend that has moved souls to beauty, and bodies to the heights of passion. As Mateo leads her into the captivating world of the music and the dance, Charlotte embraces her own long-denied creative gift and the possibility of a future rich with joy...

Follow Alli on Twitter | Buy her books on Amazon |
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

The month that was: November 2016

What happened:
Life is super quiet at the moment - and will be for a while. But we did celebrate Olly's birthday, head to Battersea Park for the fireworks, plus I went to a baby shower. Other than that... yep, November was a super quiet month!


What I ate:
I ate out at Lupita with a friend, Goodman for Olly's birthday (beautiful steak), and tried the new Pho in Wimbledon. Toasties were also on the agenda for breakfast since I bought Olly a Breville sandwich toaster for his birthday! (He loves it.)

What I watched:
I finished season 2 of Gossip Girl and watched the wonderful Planet Earth II. (How amazing is Planet Earth II?) As someone who lived in Brixton for almost three years, I had to watch Back in Time for Brixton, and as a cat lover, I had to watch The Lion in Your Living Room. Compy has never really paid any attention to the TV, but now she does after watching this! Finally, The Grand Tour started in November - I much preferred the first episode to the second.

Films watched: Grimsby, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Goosebumps, The Lady in the Van, Joy, Room, Independence Day: Resurgence, The BFG and The Peanuts Movie.

At the cinema, I saw Inferno, which was disappointing. I preferred the book, though it was wonderful to (quietly) point out spots we recognised in Florence (the whole reason I wanted to visit was because of reading Inferno). I also saw Arrival, which was I half-liked, half didn't, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I liked it, though I have not succumbed and bought the screenplay... it just seems *too* much.

What I read:
In November I read 16 books, and abandoned reading 3 books. My favourite reads of the month were An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry and The Amateurs by Sara Shepard. I also enjoyed Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

How was your month? x

Writer Wednesday: Jan Ellis

Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a digital publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning women’s fiction, which sounded much more fun.

Jan writes contemporary romcom with plenty of humour featuring characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

The Bookshop Detective will be published by Waverley Books in March 2017. An Unexpected Affair, A Summer of Surprises, French Kisses and A London Affair are available as ebooks (Endeavour Press). Paperback editions will be published in March and June 2017.

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I trained as a journalist because the careers lady at school said it was a good choice for someone who enjoyed telling stories! I soon moved into book publishing and have been writing and editing non-fiction ever since. I began writing fiction after being approached by Endeavour Press.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
I like to give myself regular frights by starting stories with no idea where they’re heading. My new book (due out next spring) has two historical mysteries in it and I had no idea what the solutions would be. Fortunately, my characters figured them out – phew!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
There are lots of enjoyable parts, but I always love it when the dialogue begins to flow and my characters come out with lines that make me chuckle. It’s so weird how that happens.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
I’m going to aim high and say Where Angels Fear to Tread because I admire the way EM Forster combines comedy and tragedy with such a light touch.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
That’s tough, but I think I’ll go for Rachel in French Kisses. She survived being dumped by the love-rat husband and opened a guest house in France. She’s fun, full of life and has the best friends and family you could imagine. I’m hoping it all works out well for her and the gorgeous new man...

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
That’s tricky, but I think you could do worse than stroll along the Dorset coast on a golden summer’s evening hand-in-hand with Gabriel Oak.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
Spring 2017 is going to be very exciting as I have a brand-new paperback coming out called The Bookshop Detective featuring my Devon bookseller, Eleanor Mace. The previous two novellas about Eleanor will be published in one paperback volume at the same time. The publishers are calling these books ‘The Bookshop by the Sea’ series. How cool is that? French Kisses and A London Affair will be published in paperback together in the summer when I’ll be sweating over the third story in the new series.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I would tell anyone starting out that writing is a lonely business and we all experience bad days when the words won’t come. Be prepared for those times and be kind to yourself.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I combine writing fiction with various other editorial and sales jobs, so I tend to write at the end of the day, in the evening and at weekends. Having said which, I can’t write without a deadline.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished Barbara Copperthwaite’s Invisible and am about to start Eva Holland’s The Daughter’s Secret. I do love a good thriller!


Follow Jan on Twitter | Buy her books on Amazon |
Friend her on Facebook | Visit her website

Writer Wednesday: F J Curlew

FJ Curlew
Fiona dropped out of school aged 15, because being the consummate rebel, she hated it! After becoming a single parent she decided to return to education, graduating in 1996 with an honours degree in primary education. Ah, the irony!

As soon as she graduated she packed everything she owned into her Renault 11, including her daughter, two dogs and a cat, and headed off to Estonia to become an international school teacher. After fifteen years of teaching, predominantly in Eastern Europe, she returned to the UK to focus on her writing.

She now lives on the east coast of Scotland with a rescued Ukrainian street mutt, a Scottish black lab and a Portuguese cat who doesn't like the weather!

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I had found myself in a crisis situation. My career (teaching) was no longer possible due to illness and I had to find something else to focus on, to occupy my mind, other than being ill. I turned to the Open University, choosing their Creative Writing module. My initial thinking was that I could write my biography. My life as an international school teacher had been exciting, unusual, perhaps people might be interested. I soon discovered that I had a bent for writing fiction. After the first year, and a distinction, I took the advanced course. This was great. Something I discovered that I loved doing. I could do well. Something that took me out of my skin, my situation, and gave me hope. 

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
There is honestly nothing in the writing process that I don't enjoy from the spark of an idea to the 12th edit and subsequent proof reading. I love it all. Creating something, refining it, improving it, finally saying. Yep. It's finished. The whole thing is so rewarding. What I don't enjoy however is all of the other bits...the admin, publicity, technical aspects (formats and creating covers had me tearing my hair out!).

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
It's hard to choose one particular thing but I do get an immense kick out of having struggled with something, a scene, a relationship, a piece of dialogue and having it suddenly fall into place. Magic! The whole getting lost in a world of your own creation is just a little bit special too.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
That would be Andrei Makine's Life of an Unknown Man. I think Makine's writing is sublime in general but the concept of this one is so clever. The way he deals with old and new Russia through an old man who has been left to die in a room in the middle of all that is 'New Russian', his heartbreaking story. Beautiful, thought provoking and, in my opinion, simply brilliant. Having spent fifteen years in former Soviet countries the story also holds a particular relevance for me. 

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
Aargh! That is really hard! I love all of my good guys. I think it would have to be Ranulf from To Retribution. He is such an interesting character with so many sides to him. A depth. I suppose he is the ultimate hero. A man who fights the good fight and doesn't let anything get in his way. He is also completely wacky, which I like!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
That would be Carl Hiaasen's creation, Skink. We would do something completely illegal to some dodgy politician who thoroughly deserved it, exposing dirty dealings, righting wrongs, that sort of thing. And, of course, we'd get away with it, leaving the world a better place!

7. What can we expect next from you?
I have learned not to say too much here. My stories keep changing and life throws curve balls so...we shall wait and see.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I started writing late in life and had the support of an amazing tutor which helped greatly. The most important thing I have learned is that as a writer you should be yourself, to write what you want, what you feel and most importantly, to enjoy it!

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.  
Mornings are for huge dog walks followed by admin. Afternoons are when I write. I try to get three or four hours of hard writing done though will admit to the odd wander into the Internet.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?  
I am reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski and absolutely loving it.

*

FJ Curlew To Retribution book
The military is in control. Tight control. Media is censored, movement restricted. There are re-education camps for trouble makers, repatriation camps for non-nationals. Jake, Brian and Suze, three idealistic young journalists, are used to hiding as they try to keep their online news channel open. They publish the truth about the repatriations, the corruption and the deceit. 

New Dawn, the feared security force, is closing in yet again. The trio run, yet again. This time, however, they are pursued with a relentlessness, a brutality which seems far too extreme for their 'crimes.' A trail of death is left in their wake as they try to escape New Dawn and find out what is really behind this hunt. They are drawn into a web of human trafficking, child abuse and murder. Only it's closer than they think. Much closer.

Follow F.J. Curlew on Twitter | Buy To Retribution on Amazon |
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

Florida: Miami

Welcome to Miami! (Bienvenido a Miami.) Miami was the last part of our epic trip to Florida, and we arrived in style in our oh-so-cliched shiny red Mustang convertible. The drive up from Key West is beautiful, and I couldn't get over how skinny the Florida Keys are. Strips of land really, either side of the Overseas Highway, with both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico shimmering in the sunshine.

Palm trees, Miami Beach
We only stopped off at Islamorada for lunch at Mango Mike's Cafe (great spot), but you could make a day of your drive by stopping off at some of the islands, or even exploring the Everrglades National Park once you've cleared the Keys. (We passed on that. I was pretty happy that I'd avoided seeing some alligators this holiday!) Whatever you decide to do on your drive, put on your sunscreen, start your playlist, and enjoy the wind in your hair.

Mustang convertible, driving Key West to Miami Beach
In Miami we stayed on Miami Beach at the Grand Beach Hotel for two nights, though we only had one full day in the city. As valet parking tends to be pricey at hotels in Miami (at least it seems it for us Brits), we handed the Mustang back in. (It cost about £65 to hire it for the day, including petrol - cheaper than two flights.) Uber, though, is super cheap, and we used it to take us to restaurants in the evenings and to visit Wynwood Walls.
Wynwood Walls, Miami
Wynwood Walls is a shrine to graffiti and street art in an area that was once the warehouse and manufacturing district of Greater Miami. It's quite something, and the art has spread beyond the walled area where the concept originally took off. You'll find work from artists from all around the world - some drawing on modern pop culture, others slightly more abstract or arty!

Wynwood Walls, Miami
It's a pretty cool area, and wonderfully colourful, so worth stopping off at if you're in Miami - even if it's just for an hour. We went around lunchtime and had the best meal at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, home of THE MOST AMAZING shrimp tacos. Honestly, they were INCREDIBLE, and I am very sad that I don't live in Miami because I could eat those ALL THE TIME. Just thinking about them... I can taste that zing in my mouth!

Wynwood Walls, Miami
The best dinner we had in Miami was at Indomania, an Indonesian-Dutch restaurant. It was wonderful to have some tasty food that wasn't BBQ, American, seafood or Italian at this point of the holiday! If you fancy something a bit different, try the rijsttafel menu. Yum!

Wynwood Walls, Miami
As well as exploring Wynwood, we spent time relaxing by the hotel pools and on the beach, marvelling at how put together and stylish people from Miami are. Miami Beach/South Beach is stunning, so head to the ocean and feel that toasty sand underneath your toes. One thing I would avoid, however, is going for drinks on Ocean Drive... unless you want to pay LOTS for a crappy cocktail, that is.

Miami Beach
There's definitely more to Miami than we were able to gleam in the short amount of time we were there - like, we didn't get to see any of downtown Miami - but I'm glad we got to have a taste! Now, when can I go on holiday again, please? x

Florida: Key West

After a pretty full-on (but fun) time in Orlando, we flew to Key West to stay at Silver Palms Inn for five nights. Located a few minutes from Duval Street, Key West's famous party street, we were close enough that we didn't have to walk for ages to get anywhere, but we weren't caught up in the thick of it. (Key West is only four miles long by one mile wide, so you don't really need to rent a car.)

Sunset, Key West, Florida
For us Key West was about relaxing and recharging, and we definitely picked the right place. Although it's known as a bit of a party town, the island is super laid-back. Pool time, reading and awesome food were at the top of our to-do list, but we did visit The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (home of many six-toed cats!), the Southernmost point buoy and, briefly, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Briefly because when we arrived some epic torrential rain decided to join us. Doh!

Southernmost point buoy, Key West, Florida
Now, Ernest Hemingway is connected with Sloppy Joe's, a rather famous bar on Duval Street. The ambience is definitely touristy and not what it would have been like in Hemingway's day, but pop in for a drink to say you've been. Another great place to head for a drink is Sunset Pier, right by Mallory Square. Funnily enough, it's the perfect spot to have a cocktail (rum runners FTW) and enjoy the sunset! We enjoyed a local speciality here, too - conch fritters - though Key West is known for its Key lime pie. Make sure you try a piece. Or two! And some Key lime ice cream from Flamingo Crossing if you need to cool down. (Maybe avoid the Key lime Cuban cigars though!)

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West, Florida
Food-wise we LOVED The Flaming Buoy Grill Co. Definitly the best food we ate in Florida - the flavours were beautiful, plus the service was brilliant. For lunch, you want Bien (ranked #1 on TripAdvisor). I gorged on their awesome Carribean roast Cuban sandwich as Key West's famous chickens pecked at our feet. The taste! Those onions! Incredible. (And I'm not a sandwich person.) Other places we enjoyed: Onlywood Pizzeria Trattoria, Firefly (beautiful pulled pork), Bagatelle (the bread is DIVINE!), Charlie Macs and Sandy's (another great spot for a Cuban sandwich). One thing to note though if you're there off-season is that some of the bars and restaurants are closed whilst the owners are on *their* hols.

Pork tenderloin from Bagatelle, Key West, Florida
Whilst we may have arrived in a small prop plane, we left Key West in a shiny red Mustang convertible to drive up the Florida Keys for the last bit of our holiday... Miami! I'll tell you all about that next time, but we had a wonderful time in Key West - despite quite a bit of rain; oh, hurricane season! - and loved the island vibes. x

Writer Wednesday: Laurie Ellingham

Laurie lives in a small village on the Suffolk/Essex border, with her husband, two children, and their cockerpoo, Rodney. When she is not disappearing into the fictional world of her characters, preferably with a large coffee and a Twix (or two) to hand, she is running through the countryside, burning off the chocolate intake and plotting her next chapter.

Laurie starting writing stories when she was eight years old, and after gaining a first class honours degree in Psychology and a brief stint working in public relations, Laurie followed her passion and her dream to become a writer and now spends her days writing contemporary women’s fiction.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I think I was born with a desire to write. I’ve been writing stories since I was very little. Even at the age of 10 I sent a little story to a publisher (and received my first rejection). Stories seem to appear in my head like a film and I see it as my job to put it into words in the best way I can. 

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
 My answer to this question changes daily, but today the hardest part seems to be the just-keep-going mentality you have to have to take your novel from the early 20,000 word mark all the way through to the end.

Of course, rejections, self-doubt, loneliness, and the penniless state of being a writer, could quite easily have been my answer on any other day.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Taking an idea and characters that only exist in my head, and weaving their stories into a novel to share with the world, is a fantastic feeling and the most enjoyable part of writing for me.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
Oh gosh, where to start. I could reel off a list of books I’ve read which have changed me in some way or that I wished I’d written. The best books for me aren’t just ones that I enjoy reading, but ones that push me to want to be a better writer. Emma Healy’s Elizabeth is Missing is one of those books. She has taken a truly difficult topic - Alzheimer’s disease - which has affected so many people in so many ways - and weaved it beautifully into a gripping mystery. Amazing!

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
Lizzie Appleton. She’s one of the main characters in my next novel to be released (Three Months to Live, published by Carina and out in April 2017). Lizzie is sweet and funny, and horribly sarcastic to the point of rudeness sometimes, but she’s had a tough life and spent a lot of her life in hospital battling brain tumours. She definitely deserves saving.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Ooooo good question. I’ve been reading so many thrillers lately, which are great, but perhaps don’t make for the best characters to hang out with. So, it’ll have to be Arielle Lockley (is that too stalkerish? :-)) I read Kept over the summer and just loved Arielle’s character. I really felt her pain, and enjoyed the humorous disasters that struck her life. I imagine we’d have a right good gossip over lunch.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
Next year is going to be a really exciting year for me as I’ll have two books being published by Carina. The first is out in April and called Three Months to Live and here’s a peak at the blurb:

Twenty-nine year old Lizzie Appleton has a brain tumour, but is she hiding something? Jaddi has a secret life not even her best friends know about. If the truth comes out, she’ll lose everything. Samantha’s in trouble, but she hasn’t told a soul. Would anyone believe her if she did? 

When three best friends are offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the world, they jump at the chance, but there’s a catch - they have to take part in a TV documentary following the final months of Lizzie's life. 

With the world watching, Lizzie, Jaddi, Samantha, and cameraman Ben, embark on a journey which will push their friendship to the brink. 

Three Friends...Three Secrets...Three Months to live.

The second book is called The Stranger on The Boat and is much darker than anything I’ve written before. It’s been a challenge to write, but one I’ve loved.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Don’t let the rejections get you down. Don’t give up! It wasn’t advice I was given and there was a spell of three years where I stopped writing all together. Luckily, I found my way back to writing in 2013, and whilst it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and whilst I have still dealt with some harsh rejections, I do feel that I’m going in the right direction now.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
When I’m working on a first draft my aim is to write 1000 words a day. This goes a lot easier if I sit with a coffee straight after the school run and make a start. I usually write for a few hours and then get some fresh air with either a dog walk or a run. Then it’s back to it until school pick up. Some days I can sit at my desk all day and make no progress. Others, I’m popping out to do errands or helping over at the school, and still squeeze in a good writing session. The important thing for me is to do something with my work in progress every day. Even if it’s just reading through the last chapter I’ve written. This keeps the story fresh in my mind.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
Right now I’m reading Lucie Whitehouse’s latest novel - Keep You Close. It’s a slower novel than her previous books, but beautifully written and very compelling.


Follow Laurie on Twitter | Buy How To Throw Your Life Away on Amazon |
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

Florida: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

About 50 miles from Orlando, on the East coast of Florida, you'll find NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Opened in 1962, this is where the Apollo missions and Space Shuttle missions were all launched from.

Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is launch control whilst Space Center Houston is mission control, if you're wondering why the famous phrase is "Houston, we have a problem". (Though it's usually misquoted; it's actually: "Houston, we've had a problem".)

Kennedy Space Center
This means that KSC look after the rocket/shuttle to get it to launch and until it clears the launch tower, which takes about seven seconds. How incredible is it to be able to get something so vastly complicated safely off the ground, let alone into space - and with people involved!

Kennedy Space Center
All this assembly action takes place in the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is where both Saturn V and Space Shuttle were assembled. The Saturn V rocket is the one that got man to the moon, and it all happened here at Kennedy Space Center. You can actually book and watch the rocket launches that take place on site, so keep an eye on dates if you're planning a visit!

SpaceX, Kennedy Space Center
Whilst NASA don't currently have a space program, SpaceX launch their rockets from Cape Canaveral. Owned by Elon Musk, SpaceX has the vision of getting 1 million humans to Mars at some point in the future! (They'll likely achieve it as well.)

Kennedy Space Center
The best (and only) way to see and learn about these various buildings at Kennedy Space Center is to take a bus tour, which drops you off afterwards at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. (This is the only way you can get to the center, too.)

Kennedy Space Center
The basic bus tour is included in the price of your admission, but there's also the option to book more in-depth tours and see more restricted areas of KSC. I'd definitely do one of the extra tours it we go back to Orlando.

Kennedy Space Center
Whilst we did gain some awesome insight and history from our bus tour guide, one thing I'm glad we missed out on was seeing some alligators! They are prevalent around KSC - and one of my biggest terrors - but when we stopped at a creek which had twelve 'gators snoozing there the day before, it was, mercifully, alligator free when we stopped!

Kennedy Space Center
Do take your time to look around the Apollo/Saturn V area before you get a bus back to explore the rest of the visitor complex. Focusing on the Apollo days, it's a fascinating insight into the classic era of spaceflight.

Atlantis, Kennedy Space Center
Once you're back in the main area at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, it's time to find out about the Space Shuttle program and see Atlantis for yourself. Atlantis launched in October 1985 and had its last flight in July 2011, which was also the end of the Space Shuttle program for NASA.

Atlantis, Kennedy Space Center
In this area you'll also have the opportunity to experience a shuttle launch for yourself (the orange version of Mission: SPACE at Epcot is more intense, I thought, but this is still fun to do), take part in simulators, learn about the Hubble Space Telescope and pause to reflect on all those who lost their lives in the name of space. For all the triumphs, there were also many sad, life-taking failures.

Kennedy Space Center
Elsewhere at Kennedy Space Center you've got the Rocket Garden, two IMAX 3D films to watch (both very good!) and a new Heroes and Legends section, which wasn't open when we were there. You can see a full list of attractions here, and I'd highly recommend that if you're in the area that you pay a visit. You can just about squeeze everything in a day if you plan carefully!

Kennedy Space Center
We enjoyed a truly fascinating day at Kennedy Space Center learning all about life beyond Earth. For someone like me who has an awesome imagination (I'd like to think so anyway!), I have no idea how people ever came up with the idea of getting us into space, let alone actually making it happen - but I'm glad they did. Aren't you?

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, SR 405, Titusville, FL 32899
Open daily. Tickets can be bought online here

Writer Wednesday: Colette Kebell

After being a Legal Secretary for about 10 years, Colette was on the hunt to find something else that she would find just as interesting. She found that in writing and she hopes you like what you read. She loves fashion with a passion (pardon the pun) and therefore it is not surprising that her debut novel was going to follow that theme.

Her debut novel was Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen! which was followed by The Retail Therapist, both of these being romantic comedies/chick lit, a genre she adores.

When she’s not in writing mode she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, a task that usually produces good results; as her husband would say, as opposed to “his” experiments which often end in a culinary disaster. She lives in Coastal Kent, UK with two adorable dogs. Oh yes, and hubby too.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
Honestly, due to having been made redundant. Not that it wasn’t already something I enjoyed, but other than about 15 years ago (my first attempt that still sits in the cupboard collecting dust), I never really considered it an option until I discovered a fellow indie author’s books and became friends with her on Facebook. After various discussions with her I thought to myself, whilst I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for those all-important interview calls, I might as well have another go at it.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
The toughest part, at least in the past year or so, is actually finding the time to write. With our house having been on the market, then the resulting sale (which took almost 2 ½ years), house hunting each time we thought we had a buyer, looking after the house (regular cleaning due to said house marketing), hubby, dogs and marketing of my current books, along with a myriad of other distractions, I have struggled to get back into it, until recently.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
In my household, the most enjoyable part, at least as far as my current two books are concerned, are the conversations that have taken place between myself and my husband. He works from home too, though is glued to his all-important computer each day dealing with IT software that I wouldn’t ever attempt to comprehend. Having said that, in the evenings he read through what I had written and gave me a few pointers or would suggest where the plot might go next, or just plain laugh and joke about how funny my books are. Our house was filled with laughter during that time which seems to have translated to the pages; and I had found a new lease in life.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
If you asked me this a few years ago, I probably would have answered the Santagelo series by the late great Jackie Collins or and I have to say, Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series (can’t forget her as it was those that were the deciding factor on which genre I wrote). I was hooked on these for years and have read all but the last one which is still sitting patiently on my TBR pile. In the past year though, the book which touched me most was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I have yet to see the film, due to currently being stuck in France awaiting the completion of our purchase, but from the accounts of Facebook friends it has been made true to the book, which is a rare occurrence. I would love to have written that book as it has touched so many people’s lives in quite a profound way, as I am sure the film will do the same.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
That, I have to say is a tough question as I prefer each character to have found some kind of happiness or growth from their roles in my books. I think, if I wanted to be a bit of a devil about things, I might decide to rescue Jasper Barnes, not that he deserves it you understand, but it would be fun to play around with to get him out of the holes that he digs for himself.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
You probably would expect me to immediately say Becky Bloomwood but you are wrong on that one. Sophie Kinsella may have been somewhat of an inspiration to me when writing but having said that I prefer the strength of character that Lucky Santangelo has, so she would be my ideal literary character to spend a day with. As far as what we would do is concerned, I don’t have a clue. In any one day Lucky’s life took her through fashion, finance, dealing with The Mob, worrying about family and a myriad of other things. Anything that came her way I would be more than happy to ride alongside and hopefully find out how things pan out.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I have a few irons in the fire at this point and one or more of them may well have come to fruition by the time this interview is posted. I have three further chick lits under way, one of course being the sequel to Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen! (Or so Mother Says), another which is set in New York about a lawyer who is laid off, and the third is under wraps currently due to the title I have given it. Please don’t expect me to let too many cats out of the bag at this stage but they will follow my style of writing and therefore, hopefully will be as enjoyable as my first two.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out?
I think, other than the vast learning curve I had to take to learn how to self-publish, I would have loved someone to tell me just how important book bloggers are to authors! I knew that they needed to play a part when I set out and so enlisted the help of three to provide my first three reviews for each book. I then asked each of them if they would be OK with my placing an excerpt from their reviews on the back cover of each of my paperbacks. This they readily agreed to and I thank each one of them immensely for that. So, despite the hours of research I undertook following deciding to write, I still have plenty to learn, even now. I shall in future though, as much as I possibly can, enlist the assistance of as many bloggers as I can, hence this interview I guess, as they help every author they come across to reach a wider audience. I am so grateful for every approach that has come my way, despite it taking time away from writing books, as if nothing else you know that one or more people might be interested enough to buy your books as a result and the more that are bought and enjoyed the more satisfaction you feel from knowing that your hard work isn’t going unnoticed. Not only that but to put it bluntly your blood, sweat and tears though in my case mostly laughter, hasn’t gone to waste and you have brought, at least, a smile to someone’s face.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
Due to all that I have mentioned above, I don’t, at least these days, have a typical writing day. I did when writing the first two and that entailed starting the day with my dogs. They come first in my household (next to hubby of course) as they are my babies. So, every morning I put the kettle on to make my tea and whilst doing that I prepare their breakfast. That of course is a task as my two little beauties are rather spoilt. They have their mixer but I rotate between roast chicken, chicken livers, pork mince and as I am currently in France beef offcuts. I don’t give them any fat though as I want them to remain healthy for as long as possible. This they have a bit of with their mixer biscuits, as I don’t much like tinned dog food. Some days they even have green beans, carrots, courgette or some other veg as well. Whilst drinking my first cup of tea I catch up on the news on my Daily Mail Iphone App. Then comes the second cup of tea and usually by that time I’m up and running. I check in on Facebook etc, check through my emails and open my document relating to the next book. I re-read the last couple of chapters just to remind myself of where I am up to in the story and off I go. I’m not one of these people who plans at the outset where the story is going to lead and just follow my urges.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
If I had started this yesterday, I would have said I have stepped away from my favourite chick lit genre and had been reading Vengeance Wears Black by Seumas Gallacher. I was fortunate enough to win a signed copy and so needed to give it a go. It was a page turner and quite exciting and fast flowing so I was glad I did. Today, however, I returned to my genre and started You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell. This is another signed copy so I’m having to be careful as for this one I attended the book launch and was fortunate enough to meet Jill in person. Having said that, by the time this is posted, I shall be reading something else so next on my TBR are two books, one I am very much looking forward to though shall be saddened when I finish it is, The Santangelos. The other, which will be a first from this author, is The Debt and the Doormat by Laura Barnard. I’m not a prolific reader as that is one thing that I am slow at, but I am never without a few books to choose from, nor am I without one to start when I’ve finished one, due to hating the withdrawal symptoms…

*

Window shopping! Don’t you just hate the term?

It is like going into a sweet shop and not being able to buy anything, or not knowing what to buy first. That is exactly my line of business, helping people make the right choice.

I’m one of those fashion consultants that are so popular nowadays amongst the upper crust, although I started ages ago. Choosing the right clothes for the right occasion is not an easy task: the dress has to match your personality and, if it can, enhance it.

This story is about how I abandoned the rat race, spending days in a legal office, and followed my dream of becoming a fashion consultant. I believe I’m something more though, I’m a Retail Therapist and I’m sure you are itching to know the story about how I started and how I helped my clients look fabulous! So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up, click that “buy” button up there and be prepared to enter the mysterious world of a Berkshire Retail Therapist girl.

Follow Colette on Twitter | Buy The Retail Therapist on Amazon |
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...