A Convenient Marriage…

With the launch of Jeevani Charika’s latest romance: A Convenient Marriage, I got to thinking, how would I cope with an arranged marriage? What if it went wrong? What if it all seemed hunky-dory and then I changed – or he changed?


But then, maybe that’s the risk of marrying anyway – whether arranged or voluntary. I confess I came pretty close to getting married myself once, and backed away. Yep, engaged for five years, I was. He was a nice guy; fit, smart and funny… I just woke up to the realization I was making a big mistake – for me. So after deep soul-searching, I backed out and we went our separate ways; he to lick his wounds and build his new future, while I optimistically launched into my brave new world. (To my dismay, what followed was an extremely fallow period of four years in my love life. Four! I never saw that coming!)


So, if I could time-travel back to that period of indecision over my pending nuptials, what would be my advice to myself?  I think it would be: If you have to really work at a relationship, make concessions and suppress the true you – it probably isn’t the right relationship. One day you’ll realize something better is on its way.


So, enough wise words from me! Read more here about Jeevani’s fab new e-book, which is out today! 

A Convenient Marriage Cover

It was the perfect marriage… until they fell in love.


Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.
Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow their hearts?


You can click here to buy your copy of A Convenient Marriage.


Effrosyni Moschoudi on paranormal romance

My writing chum, Effrosyni Moschoudi (Frossie to her friends), is offering her paranormal romantic novel, The Ebb, for a limited time at 99p/99c. Effrosyni is an Amazon bestselling author telling stories drenched in Greek sunshine and set in beautiful locations.  And I LOVE the spooky twist! Read more here about her work and why she writes supernatural stories.

the Ebb cover ABNA 533x800(1)

Would you trust a ghost to help you find true love? Sofia, the heroine of The Lady of the Pier trilogy did just that. Start reading The Ebb to find out more. (It can also be enjoyed as a standalone read!)


frosso pic1 300DPIWelcome to my blog, Frossie! Tell us, what inspired you to write The Ebb?

Thank you, Rosie, great to be here!

The book combines my love for both Corfu and Brighton. Although this is a work of fiction, the story of Sofia who adores her grandparents and their village in Corfu, brims over with autobiographical elements as I used to spend my summers in the same way as a young girl. Up to a point, the description of the locales are very close to reality as well. As for Brighton, I’ve always had a fascination towards the West Pier. I was inspired to write this story because I feel it’s a shame that this magnificent landscape no longer exists and I wanted to bring it back to life through my story. In the remaining two volumes of The Lady of the Pier trilogy, The Flow and The Storm, the story highlights many events in real life history that involve Brighton and this pier at the heart of WWII.

Why do you write paranormal romance?

Anything that goes under the category of the paranormal fascinates me. Every day life can be mundane for us all, so I sprinkle some paranormal magic onto my stories hoping it will excite others the way it excites me. In real life, I am very much into the metaphysical, reincarnation, angels, and am highly spiritual in general so it comes easy to me to write about these things.

Me too!! So, can you share any personal experience of other-worldly happenings with us?

Oh yes. All my life I have felt protected in some eerie way and believe I have angels who look out for me at all times. In the recent years, my life got pretty scary healthwise plus it brought a lot of upset within my family. During these times, I received angelic messages that gave me a lot of comfort and courage. I blogged about these experiences at the time.
Click here to see two of these messages.

Amazing stories! What else can readers find on your website?

Readers can watch book trailers and download free excerpts of all my novels, and they can also discover a plethora of wonderful indie authors of many different genres via the interviews and book reviews/spotlights on my blog. Lastly, visitors are welcome to download my two permafree books that contain delightful short stories. Click here for the free stuff!


ebb a3 small
Watch The Ebb trailer here

Your books are lovely and intriguing reads. Thank you so much for talking to us!


The Ebb — When Sofia falls in love, a mourning spirit begins to haunt her…

the Ebb cover ABNA 533x800(1)CORFU, 1987

On a long holiday with her grandparents, Sofia Aspioti meets Danny Markson, a charming flirt who makes her laugh. Although she tries to keep him at arm’s length, worried that village gossip will get back to her strict family, she falls desperately in love. That’s when strange dreams about Brighton’s West Pier and a woman dressed in black begin to haunt her. Who is this grieving woman? And how is her lament related to Sofia’s feelings for Danny?


Dreaming of wealth and happiness, Laura Mayfield arrives in Brighton to pursue a new life. She falls for Christian Searle, a happy-go-lucky stagehand at the West Pier theatre, but when she’s offered a chance to perform there, her love for him is put to the test. Charles Willard, a wealthy aristocrat, is fascinated by her and pursues her relentlessly. Will Laura choose love…or money?


“Ms. Moschoudi is proving to be a skilled storyteller who takes her readers on a wonderful ride.”
~David M. Wind, author of Queen of Knights

“Reading Ms Moschoudi’s work is like visiting a friend. You are so wrapped up in the story that you don’t want it to end!”
~Julie Blaskie, Amazon reviewer

“I could feel the warm sun and sandy beaches even on a cold dreary day.”
~Helen Johnson Brumbaugh, Amazon reviewer

For a limited period…

Click here to buy The Ebb on Amazon.com for 99c

Click here to buy The Ebb on Amazon.co.uk for 99p



What’s your favourite rom-com movie?

Rom-coms are my favourite genre of movie. This may account for why the novels I write are in the same field.


I have watched countless rom-coms, some excellent, some pretty good and a few have been dire.  The all-time classic, never to be matched (IMHO) is:  When Harry Met Sally (1989). It’s written by the late and oh-so-great Nora Ephron. The screenplay was also enhanced by contributions from male lead, Billy Crystal, and the director Rob Reiner. Meg Ryan was at her peak in that era, and can only be matched in rom-coms by Sandra Bullock – who stars in another fave:  While You Were Sleeping (1995). Running neck and neck with these is:  Something’s Gotta Give (2003), a more recent and perhaps more sophisticated offering, written and directed by Nancy Meyers, and starring one of my all-time favourite actresses, Diane Keaton, who has two love interests in Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves.


I confess to knowing chunks of these scripts by heart. Not only have I watched them many times, I have the soundtracks downloaded on to my iPod, so I can listen to them in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep. Like a child listening to a much loved bedtime story, within moments, I’ve usually nodded off again. If I don’t nod off, I lie there anticipating the next line.


HarrySallyI think When Harry met Sally is smartly written and high on observational comedy. It’s almost a blueprint for subsequent rom-coms; pairing a pessimistic yet quirkily amusing male lead with an optimistic yet slightly neurotic female lead. Out of youthful conceit, they begin by butting heads but, over time, develop a more mellow, accepting and well-rounded friendship – although not without its moment of despair. It has stood the test of time and still makes me laugh.


sleepingWhile You Were Sleeping, on the other hand, is oddly sweet – even though Sandra Bullock’s character, Lucy, takes a sociopathic approach to romance. You see, I’m not sure being recently orphaned and alone in the world (okay, she has a cat) allows her to pretend she is the fiancée of a man in a coma – a man on whom she happens to have a massive crush, and whose life she has just saved. But there you go. The eccentric Callaghan family sweeps her into its bosom at Christmas and she just can’t resist lying to them to maintain this feeling of belonging. And still I love them. Lucy is adorable and her real love interest – the coma victim’s brother, Jack (Bill Pullman) – is a guy I could fall for too.


Interesting note: on the old Harlequin Mills & Boon website, many authors cited While You Were Sleeping as their top romantic movie.


gottagiveSomething’s Gotta Give is the grown-ups’ rom-com. I think it’s no surprise that it was written and directed by a woman. What male writer would give a middle-aged female lead TWO love interests – and one of those a gorgeous, thirty-something doctor (Keanu Reeves)?



So, those are my most watched rom-coms and here are others I’ve seen more than thrice!

(If you have any other great recommendations… PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!)


Playing for Keeps (2012) Jessica Biel and Gerard Butler

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt

How Do You Know? (2010) Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson

The Accidental Husband (2008) Uma Thurman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan

The Wedding Date (2005) Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney

Just Like Heaven (2005) Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo

Hitch (2005) Eva Mendes and Will Smith

Raising Helen (2004) Kate Hudson and John Corbett

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003) Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey

Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant

The Wedding Planner (2001) Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey

Return to Me (2000) Minnie Driver and David Duchovny

You’ve Got Mail (1998) Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks

The Matchmaker (1997) Janeane Garafolo and David O’Hara

French Kiss (1995) Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline

Overboard (1987) Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell

Treat yourself to a Writing Retreat!

I confess, I hadn’t knuckled down to working on my latest manuscript for a few months. My bad. So, when I had the opportunity to take a few days out of my busy (ahem, busy-not-writing) schedule, I headed off to Retreats for You in North Devon.


Once I left the motorway at Exeter, and set off towards Okehampton, along leafy lanes between cushiony, green fields, I could feel a change within. Ahead of me I had a few days all to myself; no cooking, gardening, supermarket runs or housework. Yes, my shoulders were relaxing, my spirits lifting and, quite possibly, a smile was tweaking on my chops.

Sheepwash 2
The Court, home of Retreats for You

Sheepwash is a village radiating from a central square with a shop, a pub and a church. On the same square is The Court, my home-from-home for a few days; a thatched house dating back to the 1600s. I don’t know how many of you sense moods within a building but, for me, this place resonates warmth and contentment that welcomes you from the moment you step over the threshold.


As a writer on retreat, I’m looking for my own space, a tranquil setting, regular nourishment and freedom to get on with it. All of that is here.


Our first meal was what I like to call ‘proper comfort food’ – a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, followed by Eton Mess. Just what I needed after a three hour drive. Our hosts, Debbie and Wendy, do all the cooking and baking; fresh products are locally sourced and many ingredients are organic, and all dietary needs are catered for. You’ve no need to go hungry!

My room
My room

The rooms have a table to work at, a comfy bed and tea/coffee making facilities. I must add, down in the dining room, there’s a large selection of teas, coffees, organic snacks and home-made cake to graze on – at any time – if the muse eludes you or you’re just feeling peckish. It was so lovely to wander down, grab a snack and sit out in the garden for a break or head back up to my desk.


For diversion, there are walks around the village, and the resident chocolate labs – Daisy and Gracie – take very little persuasion to accompany you. But they’re good girls and trained to keep out of the way when you’re busy or having dinner.

Gracie and Daisy taking the plunge on a local walk
Gracie and Daisy taking the plunge on a local walk

The cosy sitting room doesn’t have a telly – Hurrah! It does have three comfy sofas and a massage chair – which is an experience in itself. If you really must watch The News (personally, I was delighted to escape it for a while) or the latest episode of your favourite soap, there is a TV in the annexe or you could watch it on your laptop/tablet as the wi-fi connection is good.

The sitting room
The sitting room

Sleep for me was blissful – a cosy bed and hardly a vehicle passing by during the hours of darkness to wake me.


I spent two solid days on my latest project and produced five thousand words. Not record-breaking but since I was working from a standing start – not having written a jot for months – I was glad to be into it again.

sheepwash 1
Busy writing on retreat


So what have I been doing for the last few months, you might ask. Simple. I had been booked to visit Sheepwash, in February, but fell victim to a vile, debilitating cold virus, and had to cancel. Instead of indulging in five days of writing, I was festering in bed, watching back-to-back episodes of Portrait Artist of the Year on the Sky Arts channel. Inspired to put paint on canvas again, I’ve been flexing my creative muscles with a self-portrait and giving my writing brain a break. The painting’s not finished either, but it will be…


Inspired by Christian Hook - Sky Portrait Artist of the year 2014
Inspired by Christian Hook – Sky Portrait Artist of the year 2014

Truly, if you’re contemplating withdrawing from the hectic or the humdrum, check out Retreats for You and spoil yourself with a few days there. At the time of writing, it costs just £90 per day, all in.

Click here for their website
Click here for their website

Writing with Animals

I’d find it hard to write a story without animals. They enrich my life so I reckon they can enrich my characters’ lives, too.


I’m in good company, as animals have been used in literature for centuries, probably starting with Homer’s faithful companion, Argos — although I can’t claim to have given any of my creature characters great allegorical significance. So whether as an anthropomorphic lead  in books like 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith or a companion like Nana in Peter Pan by JM Barrie, animals really do add to a story.


According to ITV’s documentary, The Secret Life of Dogs, it was Sir Walter Scott’s novel Guy Mannering that influenced increased interest in dog-ownership, thanks to two Dandie Dinmont terriers called Mustard and Pepper. If ITV says so, it must be true.


Animals can be fabulous instruments for introducing humour into a scene. Their insolence or their sangfroid can be at glorious counterpoint to the drama unfolding. Equally, their quiet, comforting presence may be just what’s needed in an emotional crisis.


In Vicki’s Work of Heart, my heroine is a vegetarian. Now why is that? Well, I have a huge respect for vegetarians. I’m almost one myself but sadly, like an alcoholic, I need help. It’s not easy living, as I do, with a red-blooded, dipped-in-the-gravy, omnivore, whose face drops in disbelief when I present any kind of meal that doesn’t have animal protein in it. I tense myself in anticipation of the question, ‘Where’s the meat?’ each time I dare to inflict veggieness upon him. I know cooking two different meals is an option, and sometimes I do, but I can be a bit lazy.


And then there’s bacon…  Like I said – I need help.


I once heard the lovely and slightly eccentric Radio DJ, Tony Blackburn, on the topic of his vegetarianism. He explained it very simply: ‘Animals are your friends, and you don’t eat your friends.’ That struck a chord with me, so I borrowed his sentiment and used it for Vicki’s motivation not to eat meat.


When Vicki moves to France, her best friend sets her up with accommodation in the home of Christophe Dubois – a veterinarian. I have a bit of a thing about vets. I find them very romantic. They’re heroes. They care for animals and save lives. What’s not to love about a vet?  Christophe has two dogs – Hercules and Boz. Both are based on dogs I met in France, who quickly found places in my heart. Sadly they are no longer with us but will live on in my memory and this book. Their real names are Gus and Bibi.

Gus aka Hercules

I love cats, too. I once rescued a tabby after a road accident. My neighbour thought it would be fun to call it after him but since I didn’t think ‘Ian’ was a very good name for a cat, I chose his nationality instead. Scottie was as soft and meek a cat as I’ve ever known. Over time he became known as Scottie-poohs Posh-paws No-balls Moult-a-lot GT. (GT because he used to sit under cars and come home with an oily back.) Like all cats, he was nowhere near when I wanted a cuddle, but the moment I put a book on my lap, or tried to write – he was trying to get in on the act.


So I will continue to feature animals in my work, although I’ve yet to spotlight my first dog – a headstrong little beagle called Molly – because she’d steal the show.


Click here for my Pinterest board of Furry and Feathered Friends

I love Austen Week (tag)

With Valentine’s Day coming up, Hamlette at Hamlette’s Soliloquy is running an ‘I love Austen’ week. She’s posed a few question about Jane Austen’s work. Here are my answers…



  1. Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one? I read Pride and Prejudice, as recommended by my English teacher, Miss Harbot.


  1. What is your favourite Austen book? Northanger Abbey. I love it because it’s a little more quirky than the others, and it’s set in Bath, one of my favourite English cities.


  1. Favourite heroine?  Why do you like her best? I always feel most sympathetic towards Anne in Persuasion. She has great integrity.


  1. Favourite hero?  Why do you like him best? I think it has to be George Knightley in Emma because he’s honest, compassionate, tolerant and has a sense of humour.


  1. Do you have a favourite film adaptation of Austen’s work? That’s a toughie! British TV adaptations are always so good. I’ve watched the 2007 version of Persuasion with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, several times.


  1. Have your Austen tastes changed over the years? Probably but I couldn’t define how.


  1. Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  No, but I live in the same county as Chawton, where Jane Austen lived. Does that count? 

    Jane Austen's house, Chawton.
    Jane Austen’s house, Chawton.


  1. If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her? What other books and characters did you have in your brain, fighting to be given life?


  1. Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it? I’d love to see a really good film version of Northanger Abbey, as the rest have been done. I’d like to see George Blagden (currently playing Louis XIV in BBC version of Versailles) as Henry Tilney. But, at the time of writing, I don’t know who I would cast as Catherine Morland…I’ll give it some thought.

    George Blagden
    George Blagden


  1. Share up to five favourite Jane Austen quotations!


If a book is well written, I always find it too short.


It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.


Mr Bennet to his daughter:

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”


Henry and Catherine in Northanger Abbey:

“I do not understand you.”
“Then we are on very unequal terms, for I understand you perfectly well.”
“Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.”
“Bravo! – an excellent satire on modern language.” 

Hamlette's Soliloquy
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I’m Lost in Austen

I’m a fan of the film and book review blog known as Hamlette’s Soliloquy. So when I discovered a week celebrating all things Austen was planned, I just had to stick my two penn’orth in!  Welcome to my contribution.

ILAW2I have chosen to share my love of the four-part British TV series Lost in Austen with you. It was written by Guy Andrews and directed by Dan Zeff in 2008, and is now available on DVD. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it.


Jane Austen purists should look away now… maybe a bracing walk along the Cobb at Lyme Regis would be preferable, or a few minutes stitching a needlepoint sampler. You choose!  However if, like me, you have a great admiration for Austen’s work but can flex a little towards the ridiculous, then Lost in Austen is for you.


It’s a delicious fantasy in which the modern day heroine, Amanda Price, (played by Jemima Rooper) like many Austen devotees, escapes from the drudgery and crassness of twenty-first century life by wallowing in the world of her favourite novel, Pride and Prejudice. The difference is, in this story, she goes a step further.

Jemima Rooper
Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price


After the shocking and brief discovery of Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) in her bathroom – yes, really, she’s examining the laundry, which she refers to as ‘underthings’ draped over the bath to dry – our heroine, Amanda, passes it off as an hallucination… That is, until the next time a visit occurs, when Elizabeth points out the panel in the wall through which she has entered. (If you enjoyed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, you will totally buy this concept.) Encouraged by Elizabeth, Amanda steps through the open panel and onto the upper landing at Longbourn, where the door behind her closes, and she’s stranded in Regency England – right at the start of the Pride and Prejudice story.

Gemma Arterton as Elizabeth Bennet
Gemma Arterton as Elizabeth Bennet


The weary, cynical but nonetheless courteous Mr Bennet (Hugh Bonneville) is the first family member she meets. Luckily for her, he totally accepts she is Elizabeth’s friend, as does the rest of her family. Well, all but Mrs Bennet (Alex Kingston) who regards her like a cuckoo in the nest; someone who might just queer the pitch in her own machinations to snag eligible suitors for her daughters.


And so the story progresses, from the first visit of Mr Charles Bingham (Tom Mison)  to Longbourn, and on to the Netherfield Ball, where we have the joy of setting our eyes on Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy (Elliot Cowan) for the first time. He’s every bit as handsome and brooding as you might expect, not to mention – seriously uptight!

Fitzwilliam Darcy
Elliot Cowan as Fitzwilliam Darcy

Thoughout the story, you’ll rediscover all the main characters, although not necessarily depicted exactly as in the version you’re used to. The author, Guy Andrews, has nuanced members of the cast with other quite feasible traits, whilst not really straying from the people we ‘know’ from the book. I found this added to the whole project.


For example, I’m glad he made Mrs Bennet less vulgar and risible; she is, after all, the only person truly taking the future plight of her family seriously. She’s on a mission to ensure her daughters are comfortably settled – no easy task when you have five to shift. In other dramatizations of Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Bennet comes across as a shrill and irritating caricature, but in this version, I had much more sympathy for her predicament.


I also found myself falling for Wickham (Tom Riley). He’s still a charming rogue but one with heart. In fact, for a while, I believed he would become Amanda’s love interest due to the distinct and simmering chemistry between the two characters.

Tom Riley as George Wickham
Tom Riley as George Wickham

So, whilst Lost in Austen treads the line of the original story, the key difference is that Amanda is there, and Elizabeth is not. Consequently, Amanda feels a massive weight of responsibility to keep the narrative on track. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy must marry. It’s cast in stone. Two hundred years of fluttering hearts attest to that. And much of the humour in this series arises from Amanda’s attempts to steer the characters in the right direction, even though events are conspiring against her.


There’s also amusing absurdity in Amanda’s inability to get into character. Despite her passion for the book, she can’t quite transform herself into a woman of the era. Proving you can take the girl out of modern culture but you can’t take modern culture out of the girl. But, in an interesting twist, Elizabeth Bennet is just as fascinated by our contemporary society as Amanda is by Regency England. We rediscover Elizabeth when, at a moment of crisis, Amanda rushes through a door and finds herself back in twenty-first century Hammersmith. Elizabeth is now a pixie-haired nanny, following a macrobiotic diet and is surprisingly au fait with modern technology. She is, she tells Amanda, born out of time.  (Fans of her sharp intellect and spirited attack on life probably knew that, didn’t we?)


I have so many favourite moments from Lost in Austen. Every time I watch Jane offering Bingley a dog rose, I get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. To be honest, I find the love story between Jane and Bingley, in this version, more moving and satisfying than in the original.

Morven Christie and Tom Mison as Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley
Morven Christie and Tom Mison as Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley

Then there’s Elliot Cowan’s Darcy; in my humble opinion much hotter in a wet shirt than Colin Firth ever was. Sorry, Firth fans.

Elliot Cowan
Wet Darcy

And even Mrs Bennet has her moment of glory. She finally stands up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and not only wins our hearts but recaptures her husband’s. It’s a truly fist-pumping moment in the proceedings.


That’s not to say I find Lost in Austen faultless – I do have a couple of niggles. Firstly, Amanda’s appearance. During the Regency period, I suspect if a woman had turned up in leggings and a leather jacket, jaws would have dropped, fans flapped and blankets would have been thrown rapidly about her nether regions, in the name of respectability; and then there’s her hair… at no point does she defer to the fashion of the day and pin it up. It remains resolutely long and limp. (Though surprising glossy in the absence of Wella or l’Oreal.) Mind you, I can see how this does help to set her apart from the rest. Secondly, there Darcy’s sudden and impassioned declaration of love, which seemed to come out of nowhere, and totally took me by surprise, never mind Amanda.


All the same, it remains a jolly, entertaining and rewarding romp through familiar territory, and there are many witty lines in the series. Here’s my favourite. At a point where the story is teetering horribly off course, Amanda Price says to George Wickham’s retreating figure: “Hear that sound, George? Duh-uh-uh-uh! That’s Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble-dryer.”


Wherever you sit on the subject of tinkering with the classics, who hasn’t read a novel and daydreamed about life in a fictitious world? Isn’t that the beauty of fiction – to be transported from the mundane to the fantastic? It doesn’t upset me that they tampered with Austen’s masterpiece. For me, Lost in Austen is a delicious homage to one of our favourite romantic novels. The vehicle is a curious time-slip fantasy that tests our disbelief and yet delivers fun and romance in a classy and affectionate little package. This is romantic comedy at its finest.


If you haven’t seen it yet – I urge you to give it a go.


Buy:  Lost in Austen – Amazon.com

Buy: Lost in Austen – Amazon.co.uk

Hamlette's Soliloquy
Click here for more I love Austen posts

In the Mood

Sports teams psyche themselves up before a match with a hearty bout of group chanting. Think: the All Blacks rugby team performing the Haka. (Try not to think of chunky thighs and firm muscles…)


So when Writers’ Block arrives and I need to motivate myself, I play music – LOUDLY – through headphones to activate my brain and raise my vibration; and waddya know – there is a science to this.


Apparently the right kind of music engages our sympathetic nervous system – it flushes the brain with dopamine, which makes us feel good, and also helps release norepinephrine, which brings about euphoria.


Any of the following will work for me:


♪  Can’t Rely on You — Paloma Faith
♪  Home — Dan Croll
♪  Rock DJ — Robbie Williams

♪  Lovin’ Each Day — Ronan Keating
♪  I just want to dance the night away — the Mavericks
♪  Big Yellow Tax — Counting Crows
♪  Hidden Agenda — Craig David
♪  Pencil full of Lead — Paulo Nutini
♪  Upside Down — Jack Johnson
♪  Wish I — Jem
♪  Riviera Life — Caro Emerald
♪  Hounds of Love — Kate Bush


What music does it for you?

Go to my JOY for writing playlist on YouTube


Stuck on Meditation

Firstly, thank you, Rhoda Baxter, for inviting me to join in this Blog Splash!  Rhoda’s latest book Please Release Me is about three characters who are all stuck in some way.

Focusing on this theme of stickiness let me tell you about What I’m stuck on now.

I’m stuck on meditation – if that’s not a contradiction in terms. No really, I’ve discovered meditation as a way to calm the mind, focus on the here and now, and get more out of each day. Okay – it’s not like I discovered the benefits of penicillin, I’m not looking for any awards, but I have discovered the benefits of meditation for myself.

I’m reading about it
I’m practising it
I’m loving how it leaves me feeling.

Now, if I could be stuck anywhere (with anyone) where would that be? The first person who comes to mind is the deliciously gorgeous Aidan Turner – but I fear my nervous system would be sent into overload and all the calming meditation I’ve benefited from would be for nothing. So, sticking (sorry), with the theme, I’d choose to be stuck with the Dalai Lama. He’s such a wise, calm and enlightened chap. I could learn a lot from him. And where? Since I adore winter scenery and am not keen on hot sticky climates, I quite fancy being up stuck up a mountain, in a lodge with central heating, open fires and a well-stocked kitchen.

Rhoda also asked me about Stickers. As a child, I used to love sticker books, the kind with empty scenes in, to which you added stickers of characters. I had one about ballet, with a huge empty stage and lots of tutu-clad ballerinas, holding fabulous poses. Fast-forward a couple of decades and I recently put a sticker in my window which says: I’m helping to save the honey bee, because I am. I’ve adopted a beehive in the Midlands.

Anyway, less about me. Rhoda’s fabulous new book Please Release Me is a powerful romantic drama, which is out now on Amazon.  Read on, and let me tempt you to buy it…

Stuck Rhoda BaxterWhat if you could only watch, as your bright future slipped away from you?

Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband, Peter, on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after…

Click here to buy the book from Amazon


Cosmochicklitan Review

Today, I received this lovely review from Heidi on her Cosmochicklitan blog. I am beyond thrilled.

“Chloe’s Rescue Mission is a great read. I very much enjoyed this storyline and the journey of saving the theatre.

“This is the second book I’ve read by this author and Rosie Dean is fast becoming one of my most favourite romantic fiction writers.

“I loved the whole surrounding the plot was set in – TV shows, rich investors, glamour, glitz – a perfect mix  to create an entertaining, inspiring and eclectic atmosphere.

“Chloe is a brilliant character. I thought that her feisty, gutsy and lovable traits made it so easy to root for her from the beginning on. I could not read through the pages fast enough to find out whether she would be successful in saving her grandfather’s theatre (and possibly finding love along the way??).

“Rosie Dean is definitely an author to look out for. Chloe’s Rescue Mission is superb and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”

Thank you, Heidi!


Ever met one of your heroes?

Did I tell you about the time I met Andrew Lincoln? (Real name, Andrew Clutterbuck. Nice.) Okay, so it only lasted 90 seconds but it truly was a highlight in my life. He was recording a voiceover for a client of mine (he’d been suggested by me – natch).Andrew Lincoln

The day had a down side though. Let me explain…

I have this really excellent GP, she’s lovely and helpful – if a tad over-zealous. So, because I mentioned the occasional palpitation when I’m stressed, she thought putting me through an ECG and spending a day on a heart monitor would nail, once and for all, whether or not I had any truly sinister problems. Cool, I thought, some discreet micro-chipped device stuck neatly beneath my bra-strap. Let’s face it – you can get 5000+ music tracks on an MP3 player, and that’s smaller than a matchbox.


And when was this designated event to happen…?

I rolled up at the surgery, two hours before my session with Mr Lincoln, to be fitted with a contraption designed by someone on Blue Peter. They stuck three clips the size of clothes pegs to my chest, which were attached to three yards of BT cable, all plugged into a recording device the size of an overnight bag (well, large sponge bag). I managed to persuade them to tape the cables to my back; my blouse just covered the clothes pegs but the recorder had to be strapped round my waist. So, from expecting a neat, discreetly hidden micro-monitor, I ended up looking like a bus-conductor from the seventies. It even had this really neat, green flashing light in the shape of a heart on the top – flashing, as you might guess, to my heartbeat. Fortunately, it wasn’t fitted with an alarm. Just imagine my approach…

‘Andrew, lovely to meet you.’

Whaap! Whaap! Whaap!

‘Don’t worry, I just really am very pleased to meet you.’

I wouldn’t mind, but he wanted a single to Hampstead Heath and I couldn’t even give him a ticket.

Not surprisingly, when I returned to my doctor for the results, she mentioned a slight episode evident in the trace…

‘Was it around 10.30am?’ I asked.

‘Yes, actually, it was.’

No surprises there then.

It’s only fair I should add that Andrew Lincoln was a delight. Modest, polite and clearly with a smile that could make your pulse race. Oh…and a voice just like my hero Josh Warwick’s in Millie’s Game Plan.

My Writing Process

Welcome to my destination on the Writing Process blog tour. Thanks to Jenny Harper for inviting me to share the journey. Her latest book, Face the Wind and Fly, was released in December. You can visit Jenny’s blog, here.

Now, about my writing process…

What am I working on?

Typically, I’m working on more than one project. When I face inertia on one, I can usually make progress on another. For me, it’s a healthy way to work; putting one character and her dilemmas aside and revisiting another one seems to allow my subconscious to do its thing. It’s a bit like my life really – I have an excellent knack for zipping like a fly from one thing to another. I come back to those half finished jobs and think, ‘Oh, yes. That’s what I was up to.’

I know some writers only give their attention to one project at a time; they focus, they plot and they deliver. I do envy them, which is a waste of energy because we’re not all programmed the same way so I just have to suck it up and get on with doing it my way.

So, at present, I’m doing a final polish on my second book – Vicki’s Work of Heart – due out in March, and developing my yet-to-be named fourth book. All I can tell you is that the heroine’s name is Gigi – short for Gabriella Gilmartin. (G.G. See what I did there?) It’s a modern day, riches to rags story with, of course, a truly scrummy hero, some dishy yachties, friends you’d love and friends you’d ditch, and some dastardly rich boys. The setting is on an island, and I’m already very excited about where I’ll be taking Gigi.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Yikes! I’ve been struggling over my answer to this question. The immediate and slightly fatuous answer which comes to mind is, because it’s written by me and nobody else. Like I said in the previous answer, we each do things our own way. So my writing will be informed by my experiences, the people I’ve met and my interpretation of life.

I do have a history of performing in amateur dramatics and, aside from stories written for school exercises, as a child I wrote plays for my friends to perform. So I love writing dialogue and quickly visualise scenes unfolding, voice intonation and performance. Although I do loathe scenes where writers put in the minutiae of interaction, and describe every move like a pedantic stage director. I believe, if the dialogue is good, the reader can picture the scene without all that.

Why do I write what I do?

I started writing in my early twenties, when I fell in love with Jilly Cooper’s romances – Prudence, Bella,Octavia etc. I wanted to write feelgood stories that made the reader chuckle. I wanted heroines the reader could really identify with and settings that transported them from their day-to-day existence. Jilly Cooper is one of my heroines.

So, I started writing a romance for young adults because, at the time, I was teaching in a comprehensive school and saw that most of the girls were reading Mills & Boon romances. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to write a romantic comedy for teenagers, with a teenage heroine. It took me years to complete, because I was busy teaching and getting on with life. Then I moved on to writing for contemporary women, but that first book Passion Fruit Sundae is still on my list of books to revisit.

How does your writing process work?

I get an itch to pursue a storyline. A character and her dilemma pop into my mind and I think, Ooh, how might her life turn out if this happens…?

Sometimes, a whole scene unfolds in my head and I have to write it down before I lose it. It might not be the opening scene but it’s usually a pivotal scene. For Millie’s Game Plan, I wondered what might happen if the heroine were held hostage with someone she’d decided wasn’t right for her. How might her opinion change if she were forced to be with him for more than ten minutes? I wrote the scene where she’s trapped in the crypt, quite early on but it doesn’t appear until chapter 17. Like a fly, I don’t mind jumping about in the chronology of my novel to write certain scenes, and then coming back to fill in the rest.

I often think I’d like to be a plotter. I do try but, once I’ve written the plot and started writing, I find the story veers away from the original route. Months later, I re-read the plot and think, Oh, yes, I’d forgotten I was going to do that. But, fortunately, I never think, What a pity I didn’t.

One of the things which most delights me in the writing process is journeying into the unknown. Sometimes I feel like I’m channelling my characters, particularly when they do unexpected things. I was working with a character who was very sympathetic and an unfortunate victim. But, one day, she stole a pair of trousers from a department store and her true colours were revealed. The story became much darker and, I think, better as a result.
On 20th January, the Writing Process blog tour visits three very different authors. They are:

Wendy Cartmell

Wendy is the author of the Sgt Major Crane novels; detective stories set in and around the Aldershot Garrison – the home of the British Army. There are currently five in the series with more to come. She is also a book reviewer for on-line sites, E-thriller and Female First. In October 2013 she was named in the Cool Girl’s Guide, Chick-Lit Top 50 of Leading Influential Authors.

Wendy’s blog can be found here.

Hannah M.Davis is the award winning author of the transformational young adult novel, ‘Voices of Angels’. She can be found living with her husband and cat in Lincolnshire and also on her website, where a free short story is available to download. Hannah is currently writing two new books, one of which is a guide to writing your own novel and the other is a dark and sexy novel for teenagers and adults alike.

Hannah’s blog can be found here.

Julie Houston
Following the success of her first novel, Goodness, Grace and Me, Julie has changed from full-time to part-time teaching. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book.

Julie’s blog can be found here.

Where Characters Come From

I doubt any writer can deny that each of their characters bears some small resemblance to a person or persons the author has met. I’ve never actually taken someone I know and plonked them into the middle of my work, but I may have mined their personality for some nuance I might bestow upon a character.

And boy, do we do meet characters in our lives? Some years ago, on a residential writing course, I kept a journal because I thought it would help the writing flow. I discovered this journal recently and have plucked from it comments I’d noted on the people joining me on the course. I’ll share them with you here. Names have been changed to protect the libelled.

Kevin: I walked into the kitchen when I arrived, to find a chap sitting on the table, drinking coffee. “I’m Kevin, who are you,”  he said. “Rosie” I replied, after which he checked the delegate list and kindly provided me with my surname. At the group introductions, he treated us to a potted life history and précis of three novels he’s written. A leading publisher has promised to publish if he can just get his hero right. Which, bearing in mind the novels are partly autobiographical, probably means we’re safe.

Jolly Jim from Glasgow: “my life’s a comedy drama, you’d be amazed what happens tae me!” Oh – and he’s told us. He is quite entertaining – in small doses – and has plenty of charm but overly interested in talking about himself.

Anne: who Jolly Jim has christened June Whitfield. Suffice to say, when I went into the kitchen at seven o’clock this morning, for my first brew of the day, the two of them were already head to head over a pot of tea and she was sharing her life history with him. I stuck around for the death of her first husband, killed by a drunk driver (he may have jumped) through her late education and remarriage, to her early retirement due to illness.  I didn’t stick around for the prognosis, but no doubt I’ll have it by the end of the week.

Sue: who, at breakfast, very quickly got onto the topic of what she likes to write and in some detail. I left the kitchen with a mouthful of toast. I had to stuff it in there to keep me from screaming.

Briony: offers more hope. She works as a script editor. She’s funny and spare with her words of wisdom, and the only one not to bore the arse off me.

Laura: Laura is a charming lady, wheel-chair bound with multiple sclerosis and well-stocked with cannabis, apparently. She might prove rather popular as the week progresses.

By Wednesday, Kevin and Jolly Jim, had jacked it in – much to the relief of all concerned. Kevin had become weirder and Jim less Jolly. Kevin terrified Briony when he said he could read a lot about her from her retina – and proceeded to do so. Not-so-jolly Jim, who had a fund of anecdotes he was hell-bent on sharing, left because he said wasn’t getting anything out of the course. He thought the tutors were all “me, me, me”.

Apparently, when Kevin told the tutors he was leaving because the course wasn’t helping him, he said, “I feel like I’m walking away from a £200 whipping!” The tutors looked suitably non-plussed so he added, “Come on, we’ve all done it.”

“Yes but never paid for it,” they replied.

* * * * *

Although life is full of people who are even-tempered and possibly even a tad dull, it is essential that your characters are not; unless dullness is a trait you wish to emphasize and develop for contrast or humour.

Many books have been written about developing characters, and I’ve dipped into a few. I’m particularly fond of studying star sign traits to add consistency to some of my characters’ personalities.

In case you might be interested, two books I often refer to when developing characters are: A Writer’s Guide to the Zodiac by Giselle Green and The Character Map by Laurie Hutzler – an excellent guide for mapping a character’s emotional conflicts and how those tensions lead to their transformation.

Writing Rituals

I have a writing ritual, which helps me get into the ‘zone’ so I figured fellow writers might too…and they do, as you will see.

I like a pot of decaf coffee on hand; I burn joss sticks to put me in the writing frame of mind; I have Classic FM playing quietly in the background (because if I play contemporary music, I end up singing along and dancing, when I should be working); finally, if it’s cold, I like a hot water bottle tucked into the small of my back.

On days when it’s not going well, I graze on biscuits, crisps, cheese, chocolate, blueberries, hard-boiled eggs – quite simply, anything I can lay my hands on that can be munched immediately. This is a ritual of which I am not proud.

Here are some other writers’ rituals:

Rhoda Baxter – writer of smart, contemporary romantic comedies

Mine are very boring, I’m afraid – cup of tea, heated bean bag and mobile phone at my elbow to keep an eye on Twitter.

Each new book starts life as a list of scenes (which will change) written on a pad of lined A4 paper, in pencil. I’ve tried different paper and different pens, but none of them ‘feel’ right. If that makes any sense.

Anita Burgh – is the author of several bestselling novels

I work in chaos, tidiness makes me uncomfortable. I can work anywhere, I don’t need silence.

There was a time when I was plagued with rituals. It was imperative that I had yellow, A4, legal pads. Since I was living in France and could not find them I had to import from England – a dozen at a time. They were stacked up – a constant reminder to “get on with it.” I wrote in longhand with black ink and an italic pen. Without these three things – paper, ink and the pen I could not write a word.

And then I damaged my right elbow and could not write but could tap on a keyboard – it was a revelation and I never went back to longhand.

One thing, however, I have kept to – I cannot tell anyone what my book is about, if I do I am convinced the book will be ruined.

Julie Cohen – writer of smart, contemporary women’s fiction

I make soundtracks to my books of songs that suit the mood or the story, and I always play them while I’m writing. Sometimes I play them when I’m running or driving, too, and that helps me get into the story world in my head so I can plot or plan as I’m doing other things.

Cara Cooper – writer of heart-warming contemporary women’s fiction and regular short story writer for women’s magazines

Firstly, I have a huge amount of energy and inspiration for writing first thing in the morning. The period between sleep and wake is when my subconscious works so that when I wake and I am ready to get things down on paper that lasts for about 2 to 3 hours. Anything after that is completely an uphill struggle.

I need to have constant coffee on the go and total silence. Music or any other noise just doesn’t do it for me if I am at home. I have however successfully written in coffee shops where there is a constant low-level noise which in some ways is similar to silence. I like grapes when I am writing because it is easy to pick on those without one’s fingers getting mucky, so you can still write at the same time!

Claire Dyer – writer of poetry and thought-provoking novels

I write in the mornings: no music, just my cats and black coffee for company. 1,600 words = 1 boiled egg and soldiers.

Beth Elliott – writes about adventure and romance in Regency times

I begin writing about 10.00pm, when I’m sure nobody will disturb me. Sometimes it can get to 2.00am before I notice, although often the cat asks to go out for the night about midnight. Music is a helpful stimulus – a lot of Chopin, classical guitar, or if I’m dealing with a big hero moment, some fine singing from Barihunk Ildebrando d’Arcangelo. And then there’s Tarkan. And if inspiration falters, tea and two Rich Tea biscuits help. Maybe the chewing wakes the brain up again.

Janet Gover – writer of contemporary romance, set in her native Australia

I have no food in the house (or not much) when writing. I spend the morning faffing about on the internet, pretending it’s research. Then comes lunchtime and I have to walk to the supermarket to buy food for
lunch and dinner. It’s about a mile each way. By the time I get back, the next scene is in my head and just flows out…

There are also many cups of tea involved.

Jenny Harper – writes compelling contemporary stories about modern women

I have to set up ergonomically because of back and shoulder problems – no more lolling around with a laptop on my knees!

I like SPACE. I can’t work in my den if it’s untidy (which it often is because I’d rather write than tidy up). If I do, I like to face out into the garden if I can. I have slatted wooden blinds to take off the glare (remember sunshine?). Otherwise, I try to beat Robin to the dining room, which has a door to the garden and is the one room I usually keep really tidy. It’s a spacious, calming room and I can just feel my mind opening up. Also, there’s an open gas coal-effect fire in the winter, which is very comforting.

No music. I get too easily distracted.

Janie Millman – author and proprietor of the fabulous creative writing course centre, Chez Castillon, SW France

By preference, 6.00am – in the library, with a mug of lapsong souchong laced with whiskey – peace and quiet, apart from the little street outside waking up and the almost unendurable smell of freshly baked bread and croissants – at that point I move onto coffee. You can picture the scene!

But…in reality…planes, trains, buses, cafes and most recently – hospital waiting rooms!

PS…only kidding about the whiskey! And sometimes the tea is crap French breakfast tea! Nice thought, though!

Please, if you have any rituals you’d care to share, do confess them here.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Today, Mills & Boon have launched an anthology of brand new, romantic short stories called download (8)Truly, Madly, Deeply. Each story has been written by authors from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the whole collection has been brought together by Sue Moorcroft.

To give you an idea of the treats you’re in for, here’s what the blurb says:

From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one night encounters to everlasting loves, Truly, Madly, Deeply takes you on an exciting romantic adventure where love really is all you need. The paperback edition includes 24 stories and the eBook edition includes 11 additional stories to bring it up to a whopping 35!

My story, Captivating Sacha, is on the light-hearted side and full of romantic promise. You can find it in the extended e-version.

The story came out of initial workings for my novel Millie’s Game Plan, where the heroine is captured by crooks and locked in a church crypt. While I was exploring the serious side of how it might feel to be man-handled into a crypt and tied up, my mind couldn’t help looking at it from another angle. What if she was captured as part of a rag-day stunt?  So, by pursuing this avenue, I came up with an alternative scene, which ultimately developed into this comic story, with a hot, Indiana Jones style hero. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it.

For your chance to win a free copy of Truly, Madly, Deeply, simply enter the competition here. Competition closes on 28th Feb.

Alternatively, you can buy a copy by clicking on any of the following links:

Mills & Boon
Google Play

Do let any of the authors know how much you enjoy reading it.

Visiting Author – Carolyn Arnold

My first guest author is best-selling writer, Carolyn Arnold, known for the Madison Knight crime series, Although we largely write in different genres, we do share a love of beagles. I had one for fifteen years and Carolyn has two – which is brave as, IMHO, aside from being adorable, beagles are delinquent.

download (9)Carolyn’s writing has been compared with New York Times Bestsellers such as JD Robb, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, and more.  She is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and lives with her husband, and the aforementioned beagles, in a city near Toronto.download (10)

Carolyn has just released a romantic thriller called Hart’s Choice – proceeds from the sale of this novella will be given to the Alzheimer’s Society, and it is being featured, this week, on theValentine’s Day Fantastical Reads Event where some of the finest authors will be offering books for sale, helping stoke the fires of romance, passion and love. Here’s what Carolyn’s story is about

For the lucky ones, there is a love so powerful that when it comes along, it changes everything.

As teenagers, just a chance meeting at a county fair would change Barry and Tessa’s lives forever. Yet with a summer romance that didn’t fully blossom and ended without warning, two hearts were torn apart by time and circumstance.

Tessa pursued her love of dance and found herself a ballerina in the 1962 production of The Nutcracker in New York City. But she still thought of Barry.

Reunited nearly a decade later, only to be ripped apart by war and loss, Tessa wonders if they will ever be together and dreams fulfilled.

For an excerpt, read on:

You don’t choose who you fall in love with.  It sort of just happens. It happens like a trip precedes a fall, like rain accompanies a thunderstorm.  For Tessa and Barry Hart, the cosmos intervened.  It was as if a magnet attracted their souls, and a mystical seamstress stitched two hearts as one.

She looked over at him as he lay asleep and thought of reaching out to sweep back the hair on his forehead.  But she didn’t want to wake him.  She just wanted to watch him as he rested and quietly appreciate all she had in life.

He said he knew they would get married from the start.  Of course, a lot of time passed before they actually did.

A smile touched her lips, and she couldn’t resist the urge to put her hand on his.  If she put it there lightly she shouldn’t rouse him awake.  Her fingers wrapped around his—the perfect fit.

She remembered when she met him.  It had been the summer of ’53.  He was so handsome but stubborn and cocky.  The fair music whirled loudly as a carnival backdrop, and the beeping and alarm-like noise of the gaming booths sounded regularly.  She knew the owners of the games would play the sound effects to entice those with desperate hearts, those hoping to win their girls the large, stuffed bear.  No one ever won as much as they made it seem.

Most on the grounds walked around with small bears, or heart-shaped cushions.  People held helium-filled balloons, and nibbled on cotton candy that had been swirled and piled high on a stick.  Laughter filled the air along with the smell of carnival food—funnel cakes and popcorn.  The merry-go-round spun as a colored blur like a kaleidoscope of patterns and shades.  While most had a sweetheart to share the day with, Tessa had her friend Mary.


To believe she was that young when this all began.  It felt so long ago now.  How time pressed on without waiting for its occupants to get on board.

Tessa wore a net petticoat beneath the black and white checkered circle skirt her mother had made her.  She paired it with a white, scooped neck blouse.  The effect accentuated her thin waist, yet gave her fluidity as the skirt filled out.  Her blonde hair was curled, the result of a night spent sleeping with large rollers, and tied back into a ponytail with a piece of the material that matched her skirt.  Her trimmed bangs were left to frame her face.

“Tessa, let’s just do it.”  Mary looped her arm through one of Tessa’s.  For being a brunette, Mary had always been more adventurous.

“I don’t know.”  They both stood there watching the Ferris wheel, as the carnival employees boarded new occupants and unloaded ones who had their turn.  “It’s so high.”  Tessa smiled at her friend and tapped the back of her hand that was resting on Tessa’s forearm.

“You don’t know until you try it.  Come on.”

Tessa smiled.  Mary had a certain way she would look at you that had the ability to transform your mind over, weaving a negative response into a positive one.  Her head cocked to the side, a grin lit her face, and her eyes sparkled with a hint of mischievousness—the kind that would make you curious and wonder if you would miss out on something by saying no.

“Okay, fine.  But if I die my parents are going to kill you.”

A squeal escaped Mary’s throat, and she tugged on Tessa’s arm.  “We won’t die.”

Their skirts swayed, caught in the momentum, as they hurried to get in the line.

“Two tickets for the wheel, Miss.”  The ride attendant extended a hand to collect their tickets.

“Two?”  Tessa asked and turned to her friend.  “That’s a lot of money, Mary.”

“Come on, it will be the ride of your life.”

Until now, Tessa never realized how true that would be.

“Fine.”  Tessa parted with the tickets, careful not to allow physical contact with the man.  Those who worked in carnivals were scary to her.  They didn’t have roots; they traveled across America.  Her father warned her about them every year, but especially when she left this afternoon.

You’re beautiful, Tessa, and some men would love to take advantage of that.  You watch out for them.

It seemed like time took pause, for once, as she watched the wheel go around, lifting its riders sky-high before grounding them.  Her stomach tossed, and she glanced at her friend.

“It’s going to be so much fun.”  Mary bounced similar to how Charlie, their Golden Retriever, had looked as a puppy when he needed to pee.

Minutes later, they were boarded on the ride.  The wheel rotated and they were lifted; nothing below them except for air.  The fabric of their skirts rustled in the breeze against their petticoats.

Mary couldn’t hide her excitement.  Tessa put on a good front, while inside her stomach tossed more violently than it had watching the ride from the ground.  She plastered on a smile for her friend.

“You can see everything from up here.”  Mary pointed out over the fairgrounds to the surrounding fields and farms.  “Hey, there’s your place.”

“So, it is.”  Tessa did her best to steady her focus.  As she looked around, she silently coached herself not to allow the fear of heights to take hold of her.

“It’s beautiful up here.”

Tessa watched her friend—a permanent smile tattooed to Mary’s mouth—while impatiently waiting for the ride to end.  The smell of the food, which had seemed enticing on the ground, mingled with her fear and created a volatile situation in her stomach.  She needed a washroom.

The ride attendant couldn’t let them off soon enough.  Tessa knew her game plan.  She would beeline straight for the makeshift toilets, which normally she did her best to avoid, but in this case she didn’t have a choice.

“Tessa,” Mary called out to her back; Tessa kept hurrying.  Time was running out.

She was looking behind as she ran.  “I have to—”  Tessa met the ground, hard.  Pain radiated in her wrists from trying to lessen the fall, and she crumpled into a heap on the grass.


She heard her friend yelling, but she wished she would quiet herself down.  It was embarrassing enough being laid out flat in the middle of the fairgrounds.  The fewer who witnessed the incident, the better.  Tessa struggled to get up when a hand extended toward her.

“Let me help you up.”

The voice was unfamiliar, and it was male.  She dared to look up, and there he was—Barry.  Of course, she didn’t know his name at the time.

“I can make do; thank you.”  She attempted a smile but felt heat redden her cheeks.  He was handsome, and she had never seen him before.  She thought she knew all the guys in the county.  He never moved his hand but kept it extended.  His eyes were the color of the summer sky.  Her heart galloped, but she tried to rein it in.  She took his hand, and when they touched she focused on the roughness of his palm.  By the softness in his eyes, she had expected the same to hold true for his hands.

“Tessa, this is my cousin.”

She hadn’t even noticed Tom until he spoke.  She rose to her feet and brushed the grass off her skirt.  With the motion, she hoped to put the entire incident behind her.  She wanted to go, rush back to her friend and experience more of the fair, but her parents had taught her better than that.  Good deeds deserved to be acknowledged, and he had helped her up.  “Thank you.”

He reached out his hand again.  When they touched warm heat washed over her face.

“Name is Barry Hart, Miss.  Yours?”  He stopped the shaking of the hands but didn’t release hold of her.

She pulled her hand back and wiped it on her skirt.  She felt awkward and didn’t remember ever feeling this way before.  The nausea she had experienced was replaced by a fluttering in the pit of her stomach.  She felt light headed, but she had to keep her wits about her.  “Tessa.”

Her name came out, and she was surprised by how velvety it rolled off her tongue.  She didn’t mean anything by it, but it was too late to reel it in.  Mary came to a stop beside her, and extended her hand to Barry.

“Mary.”  Her face was lit as she shook the hand of the new guy in town.  Mary had never been shy when it came to boys.  She swayed her skirt, ever so slightly, and turned to Tessa.  “So, why did you run off?”

Three sets of eyes fixed on her.

“Was it the Ferris wheel?  You were coming from that direction?”  Barry interjected.  He smiled at her.

Tessa nodded.

“You don’t like heights, huh?  Neither do I.”

Well, that must mean we’re meant to be.  Didn’t he give her more credit than this?  Guys always knew the right thing to say, and the right thing to do, if it served their purposes.  Her father didn’t even need to teach her that.  “We better go, Mary.”

“Alright.”  Her friend dragged out the single word and looked at her, pleading with her eyes for them to stay just a little longer.  When Tessa didn’t respond to the silent inquiry, Mary said, “It’s early still.”  She moved close to Barry and put her arm through his.  “What time is it?”

Tom and Tessa looked at each other, picking up on Mary’s attraction to Barry, and her not-too-subtle way of letting him know.

“There’s no reason we couldn’t walk around together, now is there, Tessa?”  Tom asked.

“Well, I…”

“Come on, let’s have some fun.”  Mary bounced, and it warranted a laugh from Barry.


They ended up staying at the fair until dusk and got home just in time to meet curfew.  The two girls sat on the fence that lined the field belonging to Tessa’s parents; their legs swinging just above the middle rung.

“He was cute, eh, Tess?  Too bad he doesn’t live around here.”

“Oh, he’s just a boy.  There are plenty where he came from.”

Mary’s lips curved upward.  “You like him.”

“I never said that.”

Mary bumped Tessa’s shoulder with her own.  “You do.”

“He’s alright.  Nothing to write home about.  I don’t want anything to do with a family just yet.  I have my whole life ahead of me.”  She looked out over the darkened field at the silhouettes of the wheat and higher to see the moon and stars that shone brightly tonight, as if facets of a finely cut diamond.

“He’s going to be around all this week.  Maybe next.  You have to see him again.”

“You seem to like him pretty well.”

Mary laughed.

“What is it?”

“Did you not notice he only had eyes for you?”

Tessa felt heat in her cheeks.  She noticed Barry watching her; it was at moments she suspected he didn’t realize he was caught.  “You’re crazy.”

* * *

Carolyn’s Website is here and her books are available from Amazon Barnes & Noble  • Kobo Sony  Apple

The beauty of talking books

I’m really into talking books at the moment. A friend gave me a copy of Shirley Valentine read by Willy Russell (would it surprise you to hear that my friend is going through some marital difficulties?) and I suddenly realised I could catch up on years of reading by doing it in the car.

I strongly recommend you try one of Bill Bryson’s – so long as it’s read by him. I tried Notes from a Small Island read by another American, who clearly knew nothing about Britain. His pronunciation was excruciating. When he spoke about the See-vern Bridge, I winced, but when he referred to the duo,Morrycumby and Wise. I had to dump it. I’ve since listened to it read by the author himself, and it was fabulous.

It doesn’t always follow that books are best read by their authors. I listened to one by Edna O’Brien who had a rather breathy and precious style of speaking. She also used the word brutalness…and I thought, doesn’t she mean brutality? Exactly. I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, either.

Most recently, I listened to Popcorn written by Ben Elton and superbly read by John Sessions. The book was full of brutalness but very funny. Sessions’ delivery was so exceptional, I felt like I was watching a film. Hats off to Elton and Sessions.

The downside of talking books is, if you listen to them at bedtime and nod off, you lose your place. With a physical book or a kindle, at the very worst, you wake to a page you may have dribbled on, but at least you know where you’re up to. If you nod off listening to a talking book, and you’re a bit of a gambler, you can enjoy the uncertain lottery of rewinding and forwarding to your next starting point.

But in the car, beware. It’s very easy to miss a motorway exit or two. As I learnt to my cost when I once found myself heading into Wales. Over the See-vern Bridge, naturally.

Fact Following Fiction

Some writers can be prescient in their creations. Take Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, a novella written by Morgan Robertson in 1898. It’s about the sinking of an ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner, predating the sinking of the Titanic by fourteen years.

And, less well-known, is a work by Edgar Allan Poe called, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, published in 1838. He wrote about a whaling ship capsizing and the survivors drawing lots to see which crew member should be cannibalized to save the others. Nice. Character, Richard Parker, is the unlucky one selected. 46 years later, a real boat called Mignonette sank and a cabin boy called Richard Parker was killed by the others for food.

You can call it fluke – and you’re perfectly entitled to – but I’d like to hear what you make of these three curious coincidences in my own work…

1) Like many writers, I often use real people for the inspiration behind my main characters. When I started writing Vicki’s Work of Heart, in 2007, my character Christophe Dubois was based, loosely, on sexy French chef, Jean Christophe Novelli. Although, for the benefit of my story, Christophe Dubois is a very poor cook. My heroine, Vicki, is an art teacher. So I was pretty gob-smacked when, in 2009, Jean-Christophe announced his engagement to Michelle Kennedy…an art teacher.

2) Then, there’s a dinner party scene in Vicki’s Work of Heart where Vicki can’t remember whether one of the guests is called Karl or Kurt. As the scene progresses, becoming increasingly tipsy, she wonders if he’s called Kurl or Kart. Here’s the coincidental bit…I had previously been researching my family history and posted an enquiry on a genealogy site about an ancestor who had emigrated to the USA. Many months after writing the scene above, I received a communication from a distant cousin in the US. He has two sons, their names are Karl and Kurt.

3) Finally, in my fourth romantic comedy Gigi’s Island Dream which is set on the Isle of Wight,  my hero plays in the local ice hockey team, so you can imagine my surprise when a press release for my previous book appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press, with this advert beneath it.

Advert in the Isle of Wight County Press
Advert in the Isle of Wight County Press

Please – if you’re a writer and have a prophetic story to tell – do please share in a comment below.

It will not appear immediately, as I have to approve comments – it helps cut out the spammers selling knock-off fashion accessories.

Now that I’m a writer…

Actually, I’ve been able to write for some time. I’ve even been able to earn money doing it.

The difference is, now I can write largely what I want. That’s really liberating. Although no guarantee I’ll earn money from it.

When I gave up the day job (where I worked in marketing and corporate communication) I still felt strangely wired for weeks afterwards. I’d jump at the ring of my phone and regularly check my emails — just in case a client needed something. It was really hard to accept that someone else was looking after them.

The upside, however, of my conscientious nature meant I’d soon be back in the saddle — only this time on my creative horse.

There was a flaw in my thinking.

You see, it was lovely not having work to do. And, eventually, it was bliss to know there wouldn’t be any emails or calls demanding my time. So I lifted books from my To Be Read pile and indulged myself. I watched three episodes of Downton Abbey at a time. I made biscuits and cakes, which I ate and, as a result, had to start the 5:2 diet. I met friends for lunch…though not on my fasting days…and slept better than I had in years.

But, as my dear old friend, Shirl, would say, it didn’t pay the old woman her ninepence.

So I climbed the steep learning curve of self-publishing and the result is, my first book, Millie’s Game Plan, is now out there. I do hope you enjoy it. If you do — please tell your friends, if you don’t — say nowt!

You can read an excerpt from it here.

I am on tour!

1st October 2014: my romantic comedy, Vicki’s Work of Heart, is being reviewed on BestChickLit.com  Plus you have a chance to win a copy.

2nd October 2014: “A beautiful and emotional story” Heidi’s lovely review of Vicki’s Work of Heart onCOSMOCHICKLITAN

6th October 2014: Where did Vicki come from? Find out on A Lover of Books website, where you also have chance to win a copy.

8th October 2014: Read an excerpt from Vicki’s Work of Heart at On My Bookshelf

9th October 2014: Find out about the role of animals in my writing at Addictive ChickLit

10th October 2014: Reviewer, Sophie, was ‘shamelessly swooning’ over the hero in Vicki’s Work of Heart atReviewed the Book

11th October 2014: Read another exclusive excerpt from Vicki’s Work of Heart on Jody’s Spoonful of Happy Endings blog.

12th October 2014: Becca’s Books has given Vicki’s Work of Heart four cupcakes – “it was a gorgeous story”

13th October 2014: Delighted by he fab review from Booky Ramblings

Where will I be going next…?

Writing from personal experience #1

I love drawing – loosely – on personal experience when writing my books. I can’t help it.

What informs a writer’s life is likely to inform a writer’s work, to some degree. Let’s face it, our experiences are what make us unique as an individual and, equally, as a writer.

Sometimes, experiences can act as a trigger for a scene. Sometimes, writing about an experience can becathartic. Sometimes, it can just be about sharing an amusing memory by weaving it into your story. And, sometimes, the real experience has to be edited and toned down because it’s too extraordinary or coincidental to be acceptable in fiction. Go figure!

I can certainly own up to tapping into all four of the above.

Let’s take the using experience as a trigger for writing. One key feature of my life, living in a village, has been our summer fete. Amusingly, these parochial affairs can be riddled with political tension.

Some years ago, I was a member of the village fete committee. We, the committee, which included both churchwardens, decided to include a fortune-teller amongst the side-shows. My friend, Annie, who is an astrologer and reads Tarot, was to be our resident seer.

The Rector viewed the minutes of each meeting and didn’t object. However, once the publicity hit the parish mag…well…somebody objected most strongly, with letters and phone calls to the Rectory.

Despite our arguments that the fete also included gambling and countless bottles of alcohol, (not to mention four divorcees on the committee and three members living in sin – gasp!) the complainant wouldn’t budge. So the Rector over-ruled us and there was a gap on the turf where Annie’s tent should have stood.

That wasn’t the end of it. Members of the committee started getting all twitchy that the Rector’s stance suggested a vote of no confidence in his committee – they wanted him to attend our next meeting and explain himself….blah, blah, blah.

Me, I couldn’t get that upset but I did feel sorry for my friend, who was looking forward to the occasion and had already made her costume.

Instead, I placed an apology in the programme which read:  “Due to unforeseen circumstances Ho! Ho! we have been forced to withdraw the fortune-telling stall.”

None of the above appears in my book, Millie’s Game Plan, but my heroine does find herself roped in to helping at a village fete. And yes, I did draw some inspiration from my experiences for that scene.

Here’s an extract:

‘My mother wants to know if you’d like to help her with the teas at the village fete on Saturday,’ Lex asked.

‘What about Classics at Clavering?’

‘Oh, the fete’s all over by five and the concert doesn’t kick off till seven.’


‘Say “no” if you don’t want to. She usually press-gangs at least half a dozen women into volunteering.’

‘Where do they hold it?’

‘In our bloody garden. Same every year. You know, the usual country fete stuff: hoop-la, guess the weight of the organist, fondle a boy-scout…that kind of thing.’

I laughed. It sounded like it might be fun. ‘Will you be there?’

‘Christ, no. I’ve endured enough fetes to last a lifetime. No, I’ve got a bit of business to deal with. Some chap’s coming over from France. I’ll meet you at Clavering. Old Reverend Warwick’s going, he can give you a lift over.’

‘What? I mean…he doesn’t have to. I can easily drive.’

‘And stay off the champagne all night?’ His voice dropped to a deeper, sexier level. ‘Where’s the fun in that?’

‘You make a very good point. Okay, I’ll travel over with…the vicar. If you think he won’t mind.’

‘Course he won’t. Benevolence is in the job description, isn’t it?’

‘Okay. I’ll call Vonnie, tomorrow, and she can let me know what I’m in for.’

He made a humming noise. ‘If I call you tomorrow, will you do the same for me?’

I grinned. ‘See you on Saturday.’

Don’t be afraid of rejection

Inspirational thought #1

Just now and again, I read something which inspires me. I know I’m not alone in that. You only have to see the thoughts and images shared by Facebook users and the like, to know we love to be inspired.

Well, here’s something I read, which inspired me to keep going with my writing. I found it in the memoir, ‘And Why Not?’ by film critic and writer, Barry Norman.

“In any given field, there is far less real talent than you might suppose. It means that if you believe you have talent and are prepared to work hard, you can achieve far more than you thought you could.  If you believe in yourself and go for it, there is no end to what you can achieve.

“Never be afraid to take a chance.  And never be afraid of rejection.  You are bound to face it but just because one person rejects you, doesn’t mean you’re hopeless.  They may well be wrong.  In fact, that’s what you must believe.”

So for those of you who feel you’re hitting the wall, again and again, I recommend you print out Barry Norman’s quote and pin it to the wall above your desk.

It worked for me. Thank you, Barry Norman.

Getting inside the hero’s head

When asked by BestChickLit.com how I, as a female author, gets inside the head of my male protagonist, I immediately thought of the line Jack Nicholson’s character says in the film As Good as it Gets* when asked how he writes women so well: ‘I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.’

That’s a great line but I don’t reverse it in order to write men. However, from my teaching experience, I know the male of the species is pretty straightforward. I believe he’s also a whole lot more sensitive than he likes to let on. And, dare I say, a man is invariably driven by his pecker when it comes to choosing women.

I also think that men default to work, sport, music or any activity to avoid emotional issues. In my next book,Chloe’s Rescue Mission, my hero, Duncan Thorsen, has become hugely successful by channelling all his energy into business. Why? To get over the loss of his first love.

I never hate the hero I’ve created because he is, of course, the perfect man! He can confuse me and even surprise me, but I’m always totally charmed by him. I think a writer has to be fascinated by, and ultimately in love with, her hero to make the story work.

*As Good as it Gets is Written by James L. Brooks and Mark Andrus.

To find out how author female writers get inside the head of their male protabonists, check out. BestChickLitfor their answers.

7 things you don’t know about me

would like to thank Emma Calin for nominating me for this award, which is the trigger for my post today.

Its purpose is both simple and important…to introduce authors, and particularly readers, to other authors who are producing some of the finest blogs on the Web today. In fact, you should check out the work of Emma Calin at http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com

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Here are the rules for the contest:

  • Thank and link back to whoever who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate up to fifteen other amazing blogs, and remember to comment on their blogs to let them know you have nominated them. Also, follow the blogger who nominated you.

So, here are my Seven Facts:

  1. I have a phobia of bells in belfries – if they appear on TV, I shudder and look away. I have no idea why – unless I’m the reincarnation of Quasimodo…
  2. I used to do a lot of voiceover work. My voice has been on several corporate answer-phone systems, on a children’s alphabet learning toy and was once on an electronic shopping machine in Argos.
  3. Several years ago, I won £250 worth of silk clothes for suggesting the name ‘Peaches’ for a new range of silk underwear. At the time, £250 equalled ten items of clothing. It was heaven. They showed me a warehouse full of clothes and said ‘help yourself’.
  4. I returned to college in my thirties to study Theatrical and Media Make-up, which was an absolute blast. It tapped in to my love of theatre and my artistic side. If I had my time over again…
  5. I’ve been known to read tea-leaves with surprising accuracy – none more surprised than I was.
  6. I spend about five months of the year in southern Spain. My other half (Chris) and I are able to work from home – which means there’s no reason why home can’t be Timbuktu or, in our case, southern Spain.
  7. Chris and I recently started going to modern jive classes, requiring a lot of practice which we don’t do. Although we have stuck a list of moves to the cooker hood as a reminder. I actually thought I was doing okay until one guy told me I was ‘all over the place like a drunk.’ Well, all that twirling does make me dizzy.


This is where I am listing my own nominations for this award. Find them and read their blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.









Hit Lit Pro: 10 romance writers

Hit Lit Pro has hand-picked ten romance authors to support and promote over the coming year…and I’m thrilled to announce that I’m one of them!

We’re writers of romance in all forms – be it poignant, romantic comedy, emotional dilemma, romantic thriller, historical or erotic.

Also on board is the prestigious book promotion company, Candlelit Author Services, who will be involved with us throughout the year. And they’re kicking it all off with a competition, beginning on July 1st 2014, with a long list of fabulous prizes.

So it’s no surprise that I’m really very excited and looking forward to ‘meeting’ new readers.

To learn more about Hit Lit Pro and the other fabulous romance authors, whose novels are creating quite a stir, please checkout their Facebook page.

You’ll find out more about great events, book tours and book launches, HERE.

And here is my interview on Jenny in Neverland’s blog.

Happy Dance!

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Writing is like painting

I don’t just mean they’re both creative but that developing a book is like producing a painting.

I went to a painting class on Friday. It was time. I hadn’t painted in over two years – and even that had been at another art class.

My heroine in Vicki’s Work of Art is an art teacher. I used to teach art and pottery. Well…they do say, write what you know. (Mind you, it has to be said, painting was never my forte and, on Friday, I remembered just exactly why I chose pottery and sculpture over fine art.)

After spending the last few months writing Vicki’s story, and identifying with her passion for moving paint across the canvas, I confess I could feel the nip of the painting bug. Hence the lesson.

It was just a two-hour session and, unless you’re a prodigy, that ain’t gonna deliver fantastic results. My first attempt was torn from the board in minutes. (By me – I wasn’t being taught by Miss Trunchbull.) My second attempt started out very shakily; I didn’t have a wide enough selection of colours, my brushes were the wrong scale for the size of paper, my hand-eye co-ordination was out of whack, and I was totally lacking in self-belief. However…as the session came to an end, I found I was getting into the groove. I was feeling the same kind of excitement Vicki felt when her pictures started to come together. And, as I packed away, I resolved to invest in more paints, increase my range of brushes and buy larger paper. (No, I’m not blaming my tools…honest.)download (5)

The piece I produced is rough; the perspective on the table is all to cock, I need texture on the brickwork and there’s heaps of work to be done. It’s like the first draft of a book. Now, the beauty of working with acrylics is that you can keep working on the canvas. Layering the paint can add qualities you hadn’t anticipated and mistakes can be covered up or reworked. Adding highlights and accentuating shadows can add depth to the whole image. It’s editing with colour.

Our teacher spoke about working with an analogous palette – i.e. a palette with similar colours – perhaps only shades of yellow and shades of blue rather than the full spectrum – to create an image held together by these repeating colours. She likened it to music, where an identifiable theme is repeated. And immediately I thought, that’s like writing, too. A book has a theme – which affects the central character’s situation and, possibly, that of a secondary character, giving us recurring imagery which helps tie the whole together.

The upshot of all this – I’ve decided that my writing might benefit if I continue dabbling with paint.

Just so long as there are enough hours in the day.

Visiting Author – Deborah Swift

My visiting author, this week, is historical novelist, Deborah Swift, who lives in North Lancashire in a historic village near the sea.download (7)

Deborah used to be a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, and so she loves writing fiction set in the pre-industrial era when women wore enormously complicated costumes, and everything was lovingly made by hand.

I’ve considered writing historical novels, myself, but am too impatient to get on with the story to do the leg-work on the research. Anyway, over to Deborah.download (6)

What is your favourite historical character?

I am a great admirer of other writers whose work has survived to today. Great inspirations would include Shakepeare, though I realise this is a bit of a cliché, and Pepys, whose diary gives us such a brilliant view not only of his times, but of how his mind worked, his relationships with his family and servants. I love things like Pepys blaming his wife for leaving her wrap in the carriage when she had earlier asked him to look after it for her. It just shows that although times might change, human beings are often just the same! I’ve just written an article on Queen Elizabeth I who I think paved the way for society to recognise women as intelligent, able, and just as politically astute as a man – so she would definitely be on my list of favourites.

What are the best and worst aspects of writing historical fiction?

The research is both the most intriguing and the hardest. I strive for historical accuracy, but also want to tell an engaging story. Without historical accuracy the book would have a very unstable foundation. Of course I might make errors, but they are unintentional. Some readers wish to be educated as well as entertained, and a faithful rendering of the period is what they expect and what I strive for.

What inspires you to write stories from the past?

I’ve always loved history, and I’m inspired by real events often using those as a starting point to work from. From there I ‘imagine outwards,’ like building clay onto an armature. The event that began my interest for my most recent book – A Divided Inheritance, was the Gunpowder Plot, which gave me the setting of Jacobean England, but I also researched Seville in Spain’s Golden Age. I was inspired by the crafts of lace-making and sword-forging, processes which were immensely time-consuming and skilled. This is one of the things that fascinates me about the past, the sheer amount of labour that went into making things we take for granted now. I also enjoy giving voice to women who are so often ignored in non-fiction narratives of the past. In my most recent book strait-laced Elspet Leviston expects she will take over her father’s business, but her father has other ideas. He brings home her cousin, a man she has never set eyes on before and who she dislikes on sight, and begins to hand the reins of the business to him. The appearance of this stranger sets in motion a chain of events that will lead Elspet to the bustling port of Seville, to the great mystical Sword School of La Destreza, and to a battle to save herself and her new-found Spanish friends. It was a thrilling book to work on and very enjoyable to write.

Tell me about your writing life.

I write in the mornings if possible, before I get chance to talk myself out of it! I write on the computer, but also have a lot of very scruffy notebooks with mad jottings scrawled on them in biro such as “make Grace more evil by chapter 4,” “don’t forget to add more backstory to the drowning,” “what did a bucket cost in 1660”…. etc etc

I read voraciously, anything and everything. I’ve just read two spy novels, and currently on the go are ‘Snobs’ by Julian Fellowes and ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent. Favourite storytellers include Jodi Picoult, C J Sansom, Rosie Thomas and Linda Holeman. Hell for me would be to be stranded on a desert island with no books and no reading glasses! Actually, I suppose I might get more writing done that way…

Many thanks to Rosie for hosting me, you can chat with me on twitter @swiftstory, which is how I got chatting to Rosie, or find me on my website www.deborahswift.com

A Question on Agents

In the midst of this publishing revolution, how will the role of agents change?

When I worked in corporate world, I could select and employ a PR company to promote my business; a design agency to come up with the company’s brand image; copywriters to pen the right message and sales people to work at the sharp end.

As a writer, I can do all of the above. And yet, if I want a literary agent to represent me, I cannot select and employ one. The prerogative on selection is entirely theirs.

Do you think it will change or not, and what would be your reasoning?

About Millie’s Game Plan

How did it come about?

Why did I choose a heroine who looks for Mr Right at cricket matches?

Well…because a friend of a friend really did do that.

Admittedly, she didn’t whip up a story about taking pictures for an exhibition and she probably wasn’t harrassed by her fanatical mother to get on with the job, so to speak. But she did draw up a list of the type of man she wanted to meet, and decided he’d play cricket. So then she plotted a map of local cricket clubs and the search began. It worked. She met her Mr Right and they went on to live happily ever after.

Nice story, I thought. Good idea, I thought. And so Millie was born and her story created.

I just hope you like it.