Meet The Family – Hannah Pearl

 Something a little bit different this time round as Hannah talks to us about living with ME and how much she related to her character’s in her new book “Meet Me On the Buddy Bench” Which I myself can’t wait to read…

Hi, my name is Hannah Pearl and I’d like to thank Claire for inviting me on to her blog to talk about my new book, Meet Me on the Buddy Bench.  This book is a romance at heart, but it includes issues of grief han 4 (1) (1)and chronic illness. It is the story of Sam and Ava. Having both experienced huge changes in their lives, they question whether they can build a new life together and just what this might look like when it is not what they would ever have expected.

This book felt very personal to me because, like Ava, I also suffer from ME. I experience huge amounts of fatigue, balance problems, and brain fog. One of the hardest aspects to manage though is the post-exertional malaise. This is the key identifying symptom of ME. It means that if I overdo it, then all of my symptoms get worse, I feel awful, and it can take quite a bit of time for it to lift again.

It was really important to me to write this book for a few reasons. I wanted to take the opportunity to raise awareness of ME. We don’t yet have a blood test for ME, it is diagnosed on the basis of symptoms that don’t seem to have another cause, and so it can take quite a while to get a diagnosis, and then it can because it is poorly understood by doctors, it can be very hard to receive up to date information or advice. There are at least 250000 people in the UK who have ME, many of whom are even more severely affected than me. A quarter of people with ME are housebound or bedbound. Because of my health it can be very difficult to do the things you might do normally if a cause is important to you, like meet others or attend events. The online ME community though has been a source of enormous support and information.

I also wanted to write about ME within a romance book because when I first got ill (with symptoms much like Ava’s), reading gave me such an important way to escape from how awful I was feeling, if only for as long as the book lasted, and so I would finish one book and immediately start in the next. Romance books don’t shy away from covering difficult and emotive topics, and reading about people who had to start over but found new ways to live and to love helped me to stay positive at a time when my life changed so dramatically.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by supportive family and friends. I do hope that awareness of ME improves and that one day there will be better treatments available. There is so much of my old life that I miss and so many things I wish I could do again, especially with my children. Until then, I remain massively limited, but, like Ava, I try to find joy in the small things. It isn’t the life I expected to have but it is filled with love and I am very grateful for that.

I loved writing this book and hope that people enjoy finding out more about Sam and Ava as they try to rebuild their lives together.

You can find out more about ME The ME Association

More About Hannah Pearl

Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.

She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

In 2015 she was struck down by Labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.

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When an ordinary park bench becomes a lifeline …

As a primary school teacher, Ava Lam is familiar with the ‘buddy bench’: a rainbow painted bench where sad or lonely children can sit to show they need a friend.

But are buddy benches just for kids? Ava might have assumed so – until she finds herself sobbing her heart out on a park bench and a kind stranger sits down next to her.

The stranger, Dr Sam Stone, has a house, an impressive job and he’s even training for a marathon – all things that have become painfully out of reach for Ava in her new and scary circumstances. But whilst Sam appears to have everything figured out, it seems he needs a sympathetic ear just as much as she does.

Is the encounter a one-off, or could the ‘buddy bench’ begin to represent a source of comfort and support that will become precious to them both?

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The Lisa Carter Files Sound Track.

Hey,

so here we go, month’s in the making..

The Lisa Carter Files Play List The soundtrack to the Best Selling book series

Perfect Lie

Katy Perry – Pearl

She opened the app on her phone and started her music. As she opened the front door she was hit full force by the cold wind and it was raining. She stepped outside and braced herself hoping she would warm up soon enough.

I think that this song sets up the whole book, she is more than what people believe Jen to be, on the face of it she is the perfect mother and wife but really there is this whole other side of her that no one else knows about.

Taylor Swift – … Ready For It

‘Let’s dance.’ she dragged him onto the dancefloor and he suddenly became twenty-one again as this unbelievable woman continued to rub herself up against him. He needed to stay in control. The last thing he needed was to get a stonking great hard-on. As she maneuvered her body away from him, he grabbed her close, kissing her and making sure he got a good feel of her body as an electronic urge hit and rushed through his veins

If there was an album that was meant to sum up Hannah, I think it would be Taylor Swift’s Reputation album. We don’t get to see the other side of Hannah in Perfect Lie, she is a vixen and highly sexualised its her defense mechanism, its all she’s ever known. Even Chris wants HER, but he is a good guy and would never take advantage of anyone in the situation they find themselves in.

Limp Bizket – Take A Look Round

Jen removed the gun from the holster and held it with both hands as she headed towards the east of the lines of containers. It was cold and she could feel her feet turning into blocks of ice. She wiggled them, hoping to bring them to life and keep the blood circulating. She was now alone with her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep on the task.

Slight confession here! I always thought that the lyrics went something like

“All the tension in the world today, All the little girls Holdin’ up the world today, When the good comes to bad, the bad comes to good”

So I’ve always imagined this track being used in a big fight scene, so this would be the perfect track even if i knew the correct lyrics…. Plus it “was” the mission impossible theme tune.

Matt Cardle – When We Colide

Someone forced themselves into his flat as he opened the door, colliding with him and pinning him to the wall. The adrenaline pulsed through his body as he felt soft lips against his own. He tried to break free as he felt them brush across his cheek and moved up to his ear.

‘Come on, Detective Inspector. Put some effort in.’

He managed to free himself before pushing her up hard against the closed door. She laughed as their lips met and his hands started to trail her body. He knew exactly who this was. He would no longer be left with what-ifs and regrets. Because right now he had Officer Littlefair pinned against his front door and there was no reason to stop this time.

When I wrote Chris and Hannah’s final scene I always had this song in my head, to the point my editor wrote something along the lines of can we use something other than “collide” as they seem to be doing alot of that.

In this scene both Hannah and Chris get what they finally wanted. each other….

Our Lady Peace – Story About a Girl

This would be the end credits for a Perfect Lie, as it was a story about a girl : )

A Silent Child

Jimmy Eat World – Polaris

“You say that love goes anywhere, In your darkest time, it’s just enough to know it’s there”

All the character’s in A Silent Child do something because of love.

Jen

‘Jen, will you promise to always come back to me and the kids?’

 Jen looked at him quizzically. ‘I don’t understand, James.’

‘I know we need to put what happened last year behind us, and I’m trying.’ James sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the wall. He had rehearsed what he was going to say to her a million times, so he took a deep breath and tried again. ‘What I mean is, when you go off saving the world, will you promise you’ll always come back to me and the kids?’

‘But I’m not going anywhere.’ Jen moved to sit next to him as she did up her bra.

‘Jen, I don’t want to wake up one morning and for you to have just gone again—’

‘James.’ Jen interrupted him. ‘I’m not going anywhere, though.’

‘I’ve been looking through the news reports. I heard what the DI said. This little boy has been asking for you. He obviously needs your help. If it was his mum who was found in the Trent, he’s completely alone in the world.’

‘I don’t understand, James.’

‘What I’m saying is go back to the DI and go and visit this boy. Just promise me you’ll always come back to us.’

Jen looked at him, clearly surprised. ‘But what you said—’

‘That doesn’t matter any more. Just promise.’

‘I will always come home to you. Who else will put up with my obsessive cleaning and silliness?’ Jen placed her hand on her husband’s face and turned him towards her. ‘I love you with all my heart and more, James Derek Garner.’

James’ lets Jen go because she promises him that she will always come back to them and Jen knows what ever she goes through her kid and husband will still love her no matter what.

Chris:

He needed to made a decision, and as he stood there he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. The name coming up on the screen almost made him laugh to himself, given who he’d just been thinking about.  

‘Mum?’ he answered, almost unsure whether it would be her on the other end of the phone. He was greeted by the sound of someone coughing.

‘Sorry … Christopher?’

‘Is everything okay, Mum? You sound awful.’

‘Ah, just this cold thing that’s going round. It’s the middle of bloody summer and here I am hacking up a lung.’

‘Have you been to see the doctor or anything?’

‘Oh no, don’t be silly. Your dad is looking after me like he always does. If I’m honest with you, he’s being a bit of a pain.’

‘Look, Mum, I’m really sorry but I’m busy. Can I call you back later?

‘As long as you do. We haven’t heard from you in such a long time.’

‘I promise I’ll phone back over the next couple of days.

‘Okay. Goodbye, Christopher. Keep safe.’

He had made his decision. His dad looked after his mum no matter what. What if he’d already found that someone to love in the kind of way his parents loved each other? And he was about to let her go off to who knows where, to fuck who knows who? It was his duty to keep her safe.

Chris realises that he “loves” Hannah and can’t let her go undercover on her own because he believes in the sort of love that his parents have for each other.

Dana

‘I knew this would be the last time I would ever spend with Mikel, so I kept him close and made sure he knew how much I loved him and always would.’

And Dana believes the only way she can save her son, is if she kills herself and let’s him go into care. Little does she know Nottingham is the least safest place for him right now.

Lewis Capaldi – Hold Me While You Wait.

As they left the cottage, he noticed Hannah on her phone. He realised he really needed to get his turned back on and check in with the investigation at home.

‘Ready?’ she asked as she ended the call.

Chris moved around to the back of the car and climbed in. ‘Thanks for coming to get us,’ Chris said to Barry.

‘Not a problem. Did you both have a good night?’

‘You could say that …’

To Chris’ surprise, Hannah got into the back of the car with him. ‘Not sitting up front?’ he asked her.

‘Will you hold me?’ she whispered.

‘You okay?’ ‘I think so, but I just need to lay in your arms and feel safe again.’

This song helped write the scene when Hannah and Chris return after their undercover experiences. I know alot of what went on at the party is left to the readers imagination. But I find sex a very powerful and sometimes emotional draining. So when Chris and Hannah return to the car the last thing Hannah wants is to talk through what went on last night she just wants Chris to hold her and feel loved and safe, the more vulnerable side of Hannah appears the side we never see or even knew existed. We all like an after sex cuddle ; )

A Burning Lie

Tom Walker – Wait For You

Now this song might be a *spoiler* so I’m not going to explain the use, but it would play at the end as the credit’s roll. I’ll let you come in your own conclusions.

***

As you can tell I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about the soundtrack for Perfect Lie, but that is because that book has been apart of me for such a long time… Even before it got published.

Katy Perry – Save As Draft

I love this song, because I spend my life saving things to draft . I also always get loads of reminders from things around me that I *should* be writing that novel!

A Day In The Life of: Helen Buckley

So this morning I got up, tried to get a child up, shouted at said child, husband went to work, shouted at child a bit more and broke the land speed record getting said child to school on time… Though I can’t help wondering what Helen’s day was like….

Signing contract photo further cropWhat do you imagine when you think of an author? Someone getting up late, perhaps sitting at a desk in their PJs with a large mug of coffee, spending the day typing away, or possibly staring out of the window, seeking inspiration?

Sadly, that’s not my experience!

My day usually starts around 5ish. I’m up to make my children’s breakfast and lunches. Then if I’m lucky, I get time to write before the kids wake up. I have two boys, one is nearly 3 years old, and the other is 15 months, so life is very full on.

My husband and I get the boys up and deliver them to their childcare places. Then I start work – my job is being the communications officer for a disability inclusion non-profit called Shaping Our Lives. Fortunately I work from home, so there’s no commute apart from the short drive to drop the boys off at the childminder and nursery.

I work 9-5pm and then the boys come back and chaos is unleashed till they are asleep.

Around 7 or 8pm, all being well, I might try to do a little writing, or update my blog/ social media.

Then I crash into bed at 10pm, exhausted!

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So my life definitely doesn’t fit the relaxing image I conjured up in the first paragraph, although I do always have a cup of coffee or tea on the go. But I wouldn’t change things. I’m very lucky to have my two boys (both IVF-miracle babies), and I know one day I will have more time to write when they are a little bigger. Till then I grit my teeth and drag myself out of bed before it’s dawn, and hope to have another book completed soon!

 

 

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What do you do when your life becomes more dramatic than reality TV?

As the devoted carer for famous antique expert Harold Kershaw, Karrie Morgan was always happy to keep a professional distance from his four spoilt grown-up children, who rarely made time for their father. But then a surprise involving Harold’s Will means Karrie is flung headlong into a press scandal, and into the chaotic world of the surviving Kershaws.

With the support of her trusted childhood friend Andrew, mild-mannered Karrie must face down ruthless ice queen Portia, master manipulator Gabriel, Botox fanatic Arabella, and ladies’ man Rafe, star of reality TV show Raised in Richmond … although perhaps not as fake and flashy as he initially seems?

As vicious rumours circulate and Karrie’s past comes back to haunt her, she struggles to know who to trust. Can she keep up with the Kershaws’ schemes?

 

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logo_thumb800@HelenCBuckley                                      Facebook-Xperia  Helen Buckley Author

 

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Helen Buckley

 

 

ChocLit-logo-Web Check out Helen’s other two books on the Choc Lit website

 

Helen has visited my blog many time and her other posts can be found HERE

Book Review: Killer In The Crowd

Killer in the Crowd

Live music is in her blood, but as the death threats arrive, she fears
there’s a killer in the crowd.

Cath Edgley is just a normal schoolteacher… until she hears the shocking news that fading rock star Raven Rain has been murdered.

Because, to Cath, Raven Rain is more than just a picture on a magazine – he was also the ex-lover of her missing mother, Betzy Blac, lead singer of ’80s punk girl band, Décolleté. A woman who went missing over 30 years ago.

Warned by a string of mystery text messages to “trust no one”, Cath is inspired to solve the mystery of her mum’s disappearance, once and for all.

Cath finds herself thrust into the sordid underbelly of the ’80s music scene, when rock and roll played second fiddle to the sex and drugs.

Along the way, she joins forces with Raven’s son, the American superstarheartthrob Travis Brennon, as well as playing a new role: unwitting replacement lead singer for Décolleté on their first tour in over 30 years.

Can Cath find the killers before she becomes their next victim?
Are the superstars she encounters all that they seem?
And what exactly happened to the punk superstar, Betzy Blac?

 

My Thoughts

I have often wondered in the past what it must be like for Johnny Depps kids, (pre all this with Amber Heard I must add) do you wake up one day and think holy shit my dads famous! When exactly did the Beckham kids realise their parents where famous? Well this book in someways tells the story of what it’s like to be an adult and know that both your mum and dad are famous rock stars.

But unlike some of the famous people today who are only famous because their parents are famous Paris Hilton springs to mind. Cath Edgley is desperate for the quiet life opting to teach at a posh girls school away from the lime light until she discovers one day that her father has died of a suspected drug overdose but he’s been clean for years.

Wanting to just get on with life because she never knew her father anyway the world media have better ideas and the police come knocking too looking for a missing manuscript said to be worth millions.

But Cath’s mum was famous rocker Betzy Blanc who disappeared in strange circumstances some thirty years previously, so maybe there is something going on here that isn’t quite right. When her dad son Travis Brennon contacts her asking for her help she is suddenly thrust back into the lime light in order to find out who killed her dad and what really happened to her mum.

I loved this story so much the peak behind the curtain of a rock and roll lifestyle and I’m a sucker for stories when two lonely people end up together (Even though I tend to read crime and thrillers!) I felt a real connection to these character’s who were all betrayed as real people I could relate to, and not “rich people” who were better than me.

A million stars for this novel and I hope to be reading more by P N Johnson in the future.

 

Phil J B&WAs a TV Newsreader, Reporter and Producer for both BBC East and ITV Anglia, P N Johnson covered everything from tracking down criminals in Spain and going on high-octane police chases, to interviewing pop stars, politicians and celebrities. P N Johnson was also the face and voice of
Crimestoppers in the eastern region for many years and created the successful TV series: “999 Frontline”. Now living near Norwich, P N Johnson loves music, travelling, walking, and sailing, and bringing exciting new characters with amazing stories to the page.

You can purchase Killer In the Crowd from the retailers below:

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A Day In The Life Of – Berni Stevens

So not only does Berni write a-ma-zing books she is also a cover designer and has created all three of mine which I love. So how does she fit it all in!

 

I’m not sure there is a typical day to describe to be honest. Certainly not as a writer, because most of my writing is done in the evening and at weekends. That is, until the edits come in, which are often urgent and need attention as soon as possible.BERNI_newsmall

I used to go to the gym four times a week for Zumba classes (pre Covid), and teach my own Zumba class on Wednesday evenings. Post Covid, I’ve left the gym because all the Zumba instructors I liked have left – one has even gone back to Poland. But things change – it’s inevitable – and it means my days have changed too. The price for gym membership has also gone up of course, and I’d rather save the money!

As a Zumba Instructor I have access to all the choreography and music on the Instructors’ website, which is updated monthly. An early morning treat for me, is whizzing through the routines and music, making a note of the ones I like at first glance, with a view to learning and tweaking them for my class. (Remembering them is another matter!)

I do an hour’s Zumba every other day and I find it sets me up for work quite well. Who needs the gym? During the various lockdowns, there were a few virtual training sessions and ‘jam sessions’ at weekends, that I did via Zoom, which were all great fun, with people from all over the world joining in.

notepad-g79c0f266d_640The largest part of any day is my design work, and I tend to have several book covers on the go at once. Generally speaking, they’ll all be at different stages, which is a good thing; some have visuals out with the publisher or author, others have been approved and need high resolution artwork, whilst others need full cover artwork for print. I know most people keep notes on their Smartphones these days, but I tend to write actual notes in real notebooks and highlight projects as they’re finished. I suppose it’s the designer in me – but I do love notebooks and sketchbooks. In fact, the only things I miss about working in-house are the stationery cupboard (all those pens, notebooks and Post-it pads), and paid holidays! I certainly don’t miss the cover meetings that’s for sure! (And that’s a whole other discussion).

In better weather – should we ever have any – I might go for a walk at lunchtime. We’re lucky to have a Woodland Trust walk at the back of our house that the property developers can’t get their sticky mitts on. Although they’re building everywhere else it seems. I even once found someone taking photos of our front garden and making notes on a clipboard. I told her in no uncertain terms that our house is listed and therefore off limits. But for how long I wonder?  However, walking across the fields at the moment is almost a snorkel and flippers job – we’ve had so much rain, the fields are a quagmire. Here’s hoping we get some sunshine in the summer. (Note to self – get a new pair of wellies).

I love having a new book, in fact I look forward to the evenings when I can get back to writing. (Unless it’s playmobil-g605d110c2_640not going well and I’m stuck!) But when it is all going well, I can’t wait to rejoin the characters, and write more of their stories. Although there are times when their conversations keep me awake at night … this happens to a lot of writers I’m told.

In Izzy’s latest book for instance, I hadn’t planned on Jonno walking out on the tour, it just kind of happened. Minds of their own, some characters. : )   Losing myself in the characters  can be very therapeutic sometimes. When I wrote my first paranormal romance, I had great fun killing off characters if anyone upset me … although I’m not at all sure what that says about me. A friend of mine bought me a sign for my office which simply says, ‘Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.’

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@Berni_Stevens1                      Facebook-Xperia Berni Stevens

 

indexBerni Stevens       foto www.bernistevenscoverdesign.com/

 

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Is the rock and roll lifestyle all it’s cracked up to be?

Being the girlfriend of a rock star isn’t all glitz and glamour – at least that’s what Izzy Grant has found since she started dating Seth Roberts of Scarlet Gryphon fame; it’s actually a lot of waiting and wondering and worrying as Seth travels the world whilst she’s stuck in London. Can she ever rely on Mr Cool to settle down?

But rock gods get insecure too, and whilst Seth is jetting off to far-flung locations to perform sold-out shows, he worries that Izzy will find a “Joe Normal” and opt for a more ordinary life. Plus, he could do with some support when a certain entitled rock star girlfriend gets too big for her Jimmy Choos and threatens to break up the band.

There is a solution, but are either of them willing to take the plunge?

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ChocLit-logo-WebBerni’s other books can be found HERE

 

I recently spoke to Berni as part of my Meet The Family Series, which can be found HERE

 

What Makes an Author?

“What are little girls made of?   Sugar and spice or “all things nice” That’s what little girls are made of” by English poet Robert Southey. So what makes an author? I managed to catch up with Kirsty Ferry and ask just that…

Kirsty“If anyone was to ask me what makes an author – and that’s exactly what you’re doing here – I’d say it’s a combination of things.

  1. You’ll definitely need to write a book first. You definitely don’t want to wander around vaguely saying to people, ‘I want to write a book. She’s done that. I could do that.’ And you absolutely don’t want to ask fellow authors, ‘how can I write a book and get it published?’ Your fellow author will smile politely, and say ‘first write the book, then submit it.’ And you shouldn’t really follow that up with a ‘well where will I submit it? Will your publisher do it for me? I mean, they published you after all.’ Because you won’t get a polite response at that one. And certainly don’t jovially say to a fellow author, ‘you’ll be giving up the day job now!’ because chances are they won’t be and they’ve heard that a million times before and it’s stopped being amusing…
  1. You also need to be kind to other authors, published or otherwise. Everyone has to start somewhere and you’ll meet people at all different stages on your journey. You support those people, especially if they are friends, and go ‘yay well done’, even if their work isn’t to your taste. You don’t say, ‘oh, well, that’s nice, I fancy reading something like that, but can you recommend a proper author who writes that genre?’
  1. You need a bit of determination. You need to work at that story and make it the best it can possibly be so you’re sure when you send it off that it’s not half-baked and it’s not obvious that you got fed up in the saggy-middle stage. Chances are you’ll get rejected once, twice, three or more times. Please don’t give up. Nobody’s ever going to read it if it’s lingering on your hard drive. Self-publishing can be done quite cheaply now – I did that with my first couple of books and I’m glad I did. It got me ‘out there’ and confident enough to write and submit more. This book will be my 22nd for Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction. Imagine if I’d given up at the first couple of rejections? Also, be realistic. You have to let your book go sometime. Stop hanging onto it and meddling with it. Your publisher will change it anyway – which leads me onto the next point…
  1. You have to leave you inner diva at home. Once your book is accepted, it will be ripped to shreds. I’m not kidding. Even now I look at that first batch of edits and silently scream. Then I take a deep breath and start working through the suggestions. You cannot be precious with your manuscript. The publisher will know what their readers like. The title will probably get changed. You’ll be alerted to plot holes you can drive a bus through. You will feel like you’re the worst writer in the world and why the heck did they even take your book on for publishing? The word to remember here is “potential”. Your book is good – that’s why they took it on. But it has the potential to be amazing and a good editor will work with you to make that happen.
  1. You need a skin like a rhino. Once your book is out there, you will start getting reviews. And the reviews will not all be kind. All the glowing 4 or 5 stars that you will get will make you jump for joy – but wait until that first horrid 1 or 2 stars come in. You will forget every nice thing anyone ever said about it and obsess over the fact that someone didn’t like the colour of your cover (fact – I was marked down on a pink cover), or they decided they could have done it better and went on to animal-gefbdd1987_640explain in great detail how they could do that (fact – yes, someone wrote an extraordinarily long review on one of mine doing just that), or you will stumble upon a big long thread on Goodreads that has several people talking about how awful your characters were and other people were agreeing and adding their two pennorth (fact – yes. That did happen to me too). So the moral here is don’t feed the trolls. Don’t respond, much as you may want to. It’s really, really hard to deal with – probably the worst part of being an author –  but it is definitely a learned skill. Now, when my anonymous Amazon Hater goes in and one stars my latest release for the sake of it with just a rating and no review (fact – yeah, you guessed it – I have one!) I just ignore it. It still makes me cross, but I just wonder whether they have any books out, or whether they are still swilling around at point 1 above.
  1. You need to know a bit about social media and self promotion. A good publisher will do promo for you, but you do need to help yourself. Get a Facebook author page and keep your writing news on that so it doesn’t irritate people on your personal feed. The people who like your page are interested in your book news. The friends you have are possibly more interested in you and your pets. If they want to support you, and they’re interested enough, they’ll like your page. To me, it just compartmentalises my writing life and personal life a bit better. Twitter for me is much more about my books than ‘me’, and I keep my Instagram feed clear of writing. I have a photos page and an art page on there. Different aspects of my life, and it’s nice to have a social media platform that I don’t have to worry about updating for book news. I also have a blog and a website, and I know I need to take more care of them, but I’m sadly a bit lax there!
  1. Finally, try to enjoy it! It’s a lifelong dream for many people to become an author, and it’s truly amazing when it happens – even 22 books in! Don’t forget, though, that most of us will need day jobs as well, as it’s unlikely you’ll ever become a millionaire in this business – so it’s important to manage your expectations as well. It’s not likely you’ll get a huge advance and be JK Rowling overnight. But the first step to that is step 1 – write that book, submit it and keep everything crossed that you get to point 7 in the not too far distant future! And don’t forget to have fun on your journey. That is one of the most important pieces of advice I could ever offer you about being an author.”

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It’s one thing to be asked to plan your sister’s wedding; it’s quite another when your sister is Nessa McCreadie …
Alfie McCreadie wants his twin sister Nessa to have the best wedding ever, but he’s not happy at being roped in as wedding planner – especially as, unbelievably, his main assistant seems to be Nessa’s cat, Schubert. Anyway, Alfie is a scientist. He might know his protons from his neutrons, but what does he know about weddings?

It’s Nessa who points him in the direction of Bea’s Garden, just outside Edinburgh, where he’s tasked with picking a “very-relevant-bouquet”. It’s there he meets Fae Brimham, who might be prettier than any bouquet bloom but doesn’t seem impressed by Alfie’s sensible, scientific side.
But when Nessa and Schubert are involved, surprises are bound to happen and, despite less-than-perfect first impressions, perhaps something new and beautiful can still blossom for Alfie and Fae …

You can buy Kirsty’s book from a selection of places included those below.

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ChocLit-logo-WebKirsty’s other book can be found HERE

You can talk to Kirsty via one of her social media links below.

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Kirsty Ferry Author

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Kirsty has appeared on “Story About A Girl” her previous visits can be found HERE

What Makes an Author?

A question that I have always pondered is what makes an author? As I *think* I can now class myself as one having written 2 / 3 books so I asked Marie Laval a fellow Choc-lit author what she thinks makes an author.

MarieLavalPhoto“My first instinct was to beg you to give me another question to write about because I don’t feel in any way qualified to answer it… Perhaps it’s because I suffer from a massive case of imposter syndrome, but I have never consider myself an ‘author’.  In fact I very rarely talk about my writing life to work colleagues or friends who aren’t writers because not everybody understands the need to create ‘imaginary worlds’ and populate them with characters who feel like real people. The few times I tried I got strange looks or people’s eyes glazed over and they quickly switched to another topic of conversation, such as a favourite series on Netflix or what they were having for tea.    

For as long as I can remember I’ve had the need to jot down ideas in a diary or a notebook and to write notebook-4048796_640stories – the need to escape in an alternate universe with people I made up and yet who were completely real to me, and places which I loved as if I actually lived there myself even if I had never actually visited them. My brain is constantly full of parallel thought processes – about work and family life, of course, and about whatever story I am inhabiting at the time and characters who need a voice and plots problems that need solving.  

So, what makes an author? I should mention imagination of course, the ability to give life to engaging characters readers can see, hear and relate to, and the skills needed to write snappy dialogues or immerse readers in a landscape. But I think that taking the time to dream and let your mind wander is absolutely essential too. The older I get the more I realise that time is a luxury – time to be with loved ones or to be alone…

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I am very lucky to live in a village surrounded by hills and lovely countryside and when I was stuck on a plot problem I have always found that going for a walk worked really well to sort things out in my head and I came back not invigorated but with a few new ideas too.

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And of course, what an author needs most of all is the perseverance to keep going every day, even if only for an hour or so after work. It’s not easy, I know, and not always possible. My family circumstances dramatically changed last year and for these past few months I haven’t been able to write every evening like I used to. Most nights in fact I can only manage a few lines before nodding off on my laptop. I hope I can get more organised in my work and home life soon and find a way to get back into writing.”

QUEEN OF THE DESERT

FINALQueen of the Desert by Marie LavalSometimes the most precious treasures exist in the most barren and inhospitable of places …
Harriet Montague is definitely too much of a gentlewoman to be frequenting the backstreet taverns of Algiers. But her father has been kidnapped whilst on an expedition to the tomb of an ancient desert queen, and she’s on a mission to find the only person who could save him.

It’s just unfortunate that Lucas Saintclair, the man Harriet hopes will rescue her father from scoundrels, is the biggest scoundrel of the lot. With a bribe in the form of a legendary pirate treasure map, securing his services is the easiest part – now Harriet must endure a treacherous journey through the desert accompanied by Saintclair’s band of ruffians.

But on the long, hot Saharan nights, is it any wonder that her heart begins to thaw towards her guide – especially when she realises Lucas’s roguish façade conceals something she could never have expected? Continue reading “What Makes an Author?”

Meet The Family – Joanne Boden

Jo, is a relatively new member of the Choc-lit family with her debut recently published on the 31st January and it’s AM-A-ZING

Welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” Jo

What inspired you to write “Escape to Little Bluewater Bay

I wanted to write a story about the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. That was the IMG_20210820_114508277_3starting point and once I’d created these two characters the rest of the book grew from there.

If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?

Just relax and enjoy the writing process. Don’t stress too much about daily word counts or targets. Just try and write every day and see what happens. Also reading is such a valuable tool for a writer, so never feel guilty about taking time out to read.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Go for it. Try and see what happens. Find and talk to other authors who write in your chosen genre. Be brave!

If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?

I’m not sure. I suppose something creative. Maybe art? I like to paint and sketch.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Rejection is hard, but it’s an inevitable part of the writing and submitting process. I have had lots of rejections, but you just have to keep writing and submitting. I think the only thing you can do is take on board any constructive criticism and learn from it. Every single writer on the planet has faced some kind of rejection in their career. It’s almost a rite of passage I think.

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

I’ve read and very much enjoyed Choc Lit novels for years and when I decided to try and write feel good romantic fiction I thought that they were a good fit.

Which authors inspired you to write?

There are so many books and authors out there who gave me the itch to write. From an early age I was inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I wanted to be like Jo and write books! As for authors, there are just so many. A few include Nora Roberts, Joan Didion, JoJo Moyes and Patti Smith.

Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?

Oh I love this question, although it’s a tricky one to answer. I think we all see different versions of a character on screen. Personally, I could see

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Chris Hemsworth playing the role of Noah Scarlett Johansson as Willow     

 

 

Do you have any writing routines or rituals, if so what are they?

Not really. The only thing I try to do is write every day. Some days I can write a few thousand words, the next, as little as fifty, but when working on a novel I find it helps to connect with that story every day.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I am signed for a further two books, so that’s exciting. So there will be two more contemporary romances and I will continue to write more stories.

More About Joanne Boden

Joanne lives in Lancashire with her husband and their two sons. When she is not busy writing, she likes to take her boys to the local museums, cafes, and walks in the countryside.

Joanne has published 4 non-fiction works aimed at parenting children on the Autistic spectrum, based upon her experiences as a mother of an autistic son. She has also self published a contemporary romance novel, Picking Up the Pieces.

Joanne writes contemporary romances with gorgeous heroes. Escape to Little Bluewater Bay is her debut novel with Choc Lit.

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Escape to Little Bluewater Bay

Start the new year in Little Bluewater Bay …

New year, new Willow Jenkins? All Willow knows is that she needs an escape. So, she takes an extended break from her PR job and retreats to her grandmother’s cosy cottage by the sea in Little Bluewater Bay, where a limitless supply of hot chocolate will soothe her broken heart and a limited wi-fi connection will prevent her workaholic tendencies.

Willow is soon made to feel welcome by the friendly locals – although grumpy artist Noah Atkinson doesn’t seem to like her very much. Just what is his problem?

But then Willow is asked by her grandmother to approach Noah with a very special commission, only to discover that he hasn’t painted people for a long time – and with good reason. Will he make an exception, and in doing so usher in a hopeful and healing new era for them both?

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A Day In The Life of Gina Holland

I wanted to get to know more about my author family more so welcome to “A Day In The Life of…”

I’d like to say that most days I float around in a kaftan with a glass of gin in one hand and a dictaphone in9859 the other, and that I alternate sips (of the former) with the recording of new book ideas (into the latter), being careful not to get the two confused. My ideas stem from my glamorous international travels and the many sexy and scintillating people I have met along the way. Unfortunately, that would all be a vicious –– albeit attractive –– lie.

What I actually do, like most authors, is go to my day job, which for me is in marketing. Then I return home to ensure the family is fed before carrying out life admin / being Mum Taxi / watching some rubbish on telly because I’m too tired to write a word (delete as appropriate).

I often read articles by writers who say to be successful, you must write every day. Great if you can, but that’s just not realistic for me, and I know many other 30, 40 and 50 something women writers who would say the same thing. Thankfully, it’s just not true that you need to write every day in order to produce a book.

However, I do try whenever possible to carve out days which I can dedicate to writing –– at least until tea time! On these days I make a beeline to get out of the house. After working from home for months, I appreciate the opportunity to escape my four walls and have a change of scenery. That’s why I’ve taken to hiring a desk in a freelancing office, where coffee is on tap and I can hop out into town for a quick lunch or to run a few errands before it’s back to work.

Writing is mostly a solitary pursuit, but I’m a pretty sociable person who is a self-confessed nosy parker. I get my social kicks through meeting other folks by the coffee machine and finding out what they’re up to.

Here’s what a normal ‘writing ‘ day looks like for me:

9am: Park up on Worthing seafront and head for the office. It’s a 20-minute walk into town and it’s such a lovely route along the promenade. At least, it is on a sunny day, but you can get blown to bits or end up saturated if you don’t dress accordingly!

9.20am: A quick stop at Caffe Nero and I’m all flap-jacked up, ready for some serious writing business

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9.30am: Arrive in office. Choose a desk. I’m so indecisive that this stage can be a bit of an ordeal for me. I usually try to be not too close to a window as I can get easily distracted by the shoppers bustling around outside.

9.30am – 12pm: Hopefully I’ll manage around 1,500 words in this time. I’ve found I’m most productive and creative in a morning, so this is my best writing time.

12pm – 1pm: Nip out for a bite to eat. I usually aim for M&S cafe as there’s a nice view from there, but can someone please bring back the chicken and rice soup? I miss it! This is also a good excuse to have a browse at something or other on my way out and think up new ways why I don’t need a new x, y or z today.

1pm – 2.30pm: Afternoon writing session. I should manage another 1,000 words in this time, but they’ll probably need a good edit as my head isn’t as fresh at this time.

2.30pm: Walk back to my car in hopefully decent, not Arctic, conditions. Although if I do end up drenched, the thought of a hot bath and a coffee on my return lifts my spirits.

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3.15pm: Arrive home and spend evening ruminating over whether what I wrote today was genius or nonsense that will need a thorough re-write. The only way to tell is to do it all again tomorrow!

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Gina’s new book is out 31st January 2022, check it out below.

1 -Orange with fun busWhen going back to your roots is the only way forward …

Raegan Kent-Walters is living the high life. Thanks to her husband’s salary, she enjoys the elite Surrey housewife existence of luxury holidays, exclusive gym memberships and skinny lattes.

But then the high life comes crashing down, and, whilst reeling from the discovery that her husband wasn’t the man she thought he was, Raegan is also confronted with the reality that she and her daughter, Sabrine, will have to make some major life changes.

So, out goes the state-of-the-art Range Rover, and in comes the beat-up old Transit van to take them away; back to Raegan’s roots in Yorkshire and the life she abandoned.

But perhaps by embracing who she used to be, Raegan can find the strength she never knew she had, building something unexpected – but truly special – to get her and Sabrine through to a brighter future.

Order the books below

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All Gina’s other book can be found HERE

Keep up to date with Gina Holland

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I’ve previously spoken to Gina about her favoutie books and introduced her as part of the Choc-Lit family. Both posts can be found HERE

2021 Books and Audio

I have really struggled with any form of reading this year and though I set my target 52 books I only managed 12 / 13 if I finish the one I’m reading today..

But then I looked at how much audio I had listened to nine 9 audio books so I’m going to include those in my round up of the year….

After winning Cara Hunter’s latest book The Whole truth I decided to start the series at the beginning so I would have some clue what I was doing and I am glad I did.

Having listened to the first three and read the fourth I really loved this series and can’t wait to get stuck into the next one in the new year… What I really love about Cara’s writing is there is always a “twist” at the end and I also love the 1st person story telling with the overall commentary from DI Fawley through-out the book.

I read two books for Noelle’s books this year, after reading her first at the end of 2020 as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about after reading Dead Inside.

I really enjoyed both of these books and I love at the end of the book there is a cliff hanger that leads onto the next book. I also LOVE that Noelle has a habit of making you think that the killer is her brother. I have thoughts about what could be coming next but we shall see…

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This was the second book I read by Sam Carrington and this book was just as good as the one I read last year, Sam takes ever insecure feeling you have when your a new mother and ramps it up big time!

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When I saw this was coming out with my publisher, I had to read this! Ice Skating and reality television what more is there to love, Oh and the mention of big Sunday dinners had me sold. Helen Buckley has also released two other books this year which I recommend you read!

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I love Mark Edwards earlier books so was keen to read his latest, though Mark’s style seems to have changed in more recent books I am still a fan and will probably read everything he has ever written.

 

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Having read and loved beyond words “How I Lost you” and also having read “Before I let you”  this book had been on my shelve for a while so I knew I needed to read this, this year. 

This book reminded me a lot of “The Inspector Calls” on of my favorite books from school, I’m not sure if Jenny Blackhurst did this intentionally, but it still made for a good read as I tried to figure out what all the residents were up to. This book has also been re launched as The Perfect Guest. 

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When my publisher revealed the cover for One by One by fellow author Helen Bridgett  I had to own it!

I really enjoyed this book, and it’s character’s that seem to take a fresh look at the murder mystery. I know from previous chats with Helen how much research she also put into this book.

 

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When I saw this book was coming to our tv screens, I wanted to get a head of the excitement and read it first. Though I never got to see it realising that we didn’t have Alibi 😦

It was an interesting read and though there was a lot of detail into the deaths it was interesting to see how each crime was linked. I loved how the book all came together at the end and I would be keen to read future books by Daniel Cole to find out what happens next to the team / relationships.

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I am a HUGE Louise Jensen fan and know that I need to prepare myself to go through a rally of emotions when ever I read her books. I am so happy that she is yet to deviate from her winning formula. Though she now writes under a second pen name I’m really happy she is still producing at least one book a year for us thriller fans. 

 

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Roz Watkins‘ is a local to me author and her third book in the Meg Dalton series. I wondered what this was going to be about when the blurb mentioned a social media star vanishing. I learned so much in the this book also about pig farming, which is heart breaking to say the least. Roz once again takes a myth and weaves in into the story making us wonder if it’s really happening and this time it’s the vanishing girl. I love Roz’s work and she is quickly becoming one of my favoutie authors. PLEASE DON’T CHANGE ! 

 

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I fancied some court room drama after reading Victor Methos’ books previously. I love the main character Natalie Bach and her relationships with not only her mom but her former colleagues. I felt for Natalie as I got further and further into this book and by the end I wanted to read the next book. Caro Land is a pen name for Caroline England who is multi talented author who writes in many genres. including psychological thrillers.

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A friend sent me this book a while ago and I only realised recently it is written by the also super talented Helen Fields. This is a very #Metoo book about a rape trial and a selection of Jury members who are thrust together some who have a alternative motives. I enjoyed reading this book and it was the perfect follow on from Caro Land’s book.

 

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I listened to this on audio and though I enjoyed it, it did seem to be a bit of a mind fuck! The main theme I guess is what would someone do to get acceptance from a sibling? This book is also about self discovery of one self. I am new to Helen’s work but have some of her books in my wish list on audio so will attempt another one in the future. Plus she is an Orenda author so what’s not to like.

 

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I love Doug Johnstone’s books because I find that they are the “perfect length” so don’t drag on forever… Though this one I did listen to on audio (I need to start reading his new series though) This like his other books have a big topic at heart that makes you think about your life and those around you who are less fortunate. I really wanted to look after and love the characters in this book and even now i’m thinking about them hoping they have found there happiness.

 

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I also started listening to A Promised Land by Barak Obama who needs no introduction. Though I will admit I didn’t finish this and skipped through a lot of it, but the stories about the presidential race and his relationship with Michelle during these times I found most interesting. The political stuff less so 😦 as it was borring and kinda dragged on…

 

 

There are also some books and audiobooks I DNF this year, I won’t go naming authors cause it’s not fair on them.

I think hands down my favourtie author this year has to be Cara Hunter hands down, and No way out my favourtie book of hers. But all the books I have read / listened to above I have enjoyed and in some respects look forward to reading more by them.