Which Books… Helen Buckley

Helen’s books seem to be coming thick and fast as I am sure it wasn’t that long ago the Strictly on Ice was released. So when I saw the next book in her “in the spotlight” series I just had to get her to sit down with me again for a chat.

 

Which book do you wish you’d written. Signing contract photo further crop

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. It’s so beautifully written.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

My new novel, Celebrity SOS! I absolutely love the cover ChocLit designed.

 

Which book character/s would you protect from the world?

Kiara from my first novel, Star in the Shadows.

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

A million dreams, by Dani Atkins. I cried buckets reading it, especially as it’s about IVF and both my boys are the result of fertility treatment.

Which book would you make your child/ren read.

Anything by Roald Dahl.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

It would be fun to do a modern take on Jane Eyre

If you could write any genre which one would it be?

Psychological thrillers. I love reading them but I don’t think I could write one

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

I’ve learnt so much from books that it’s hard to single out just one. Jacqueline Wilson books taught me a lot about life, family, and friendship when I was younger.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021?

Q, by Christina Dalcher

The Push, Ashley Audrain

A sky full of stars, Dani Atkins

And of course I would fill up my Kindle with lots of ChocLit goodies too!

 

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I’m a celebrity … trying to escape the past!

When Katerina Murphy agrees to take part in Celebrity SOS, a reality TV show where celebrities have to fend for themselves in the Alaskan wilderness, she’s up for the challenge. But then she locks eyes with fellow contestant Finn Drayson of 1Dream boy band fame and realises that the show is going to push her further from her comfort zone than she ever imagined.

After all, Finn wasn’t just Katerina’s co-star in the school play adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s where she discovered her acting confidence, he was also her first love – and the first boy to break her heart. Even years later, the secret kisses and shared packets of crisps on park benches are never far from her mind.

Will award-winning actress Katerina Murphy’s talents stretch to staying composed in the face of Arctic winds and blasts from the past?


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Which Books… Sue McDonagh

I last spoke to Sue just over a year ago when she published Escape to the Art Cafe, and we talked about her brush with stardom and “Portrait Artist of the Year” now she’s back to talk all things books…

 

Which book do you wish you’d written.

I thought about this for a long time, and concluded that there wasn’t one. Since I’ve begun to write novels, my reading has altered. I can still read on a straightforward ‘reader’ basis, but my subconscious is now picking up on style and pacing, dissecting how my emotions are being manipulated, how the author handles dialogue and what I can learn from it.
               Every author has their own voice, which goes a considerable way towards whether you like their books, and so the same story re-told in a different voice just wouldn’t be the same book!
               I could re-phrase this and say that there are writers I wish I could emulate. For example, Kate Atkinson particularly for her Jackson Brodie books, Maeve Binchy for her fabulously chatty novels that draw you in to their worlds, Milly Johnson for the way she can seemingly effortlessly stitch several storylines together – there are so many more I could add! I’m learning from them all.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

The Silver Brumby (Essential Modern Classics) by [Elyne Mitchell]As a horse mad child, I was a big fan of the Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell, one of which showed the silver brumby rearing magnificently. I was hooked.
               In my other life I’m an artist, and I specialise in children playing on beaches. People often comment that my paintings remind them of the jacket desigh for Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. I’ve been faintly irritated by this – nobody likes to think they’re derivative! But while I was researching for this question, that book cover came up and I realised that my paintings are in fact, very similar!  

Which book character/s would you protect from the world?

I think it has to be the characters from my own books, who all have their own vulnerabilities and who are as real to me as a living breathing person.

 

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

Oh dear, without giving any spoilers away, I think it might have been Jojo Moyes, Me before you. I also cry when I write the heart tugging scenes in my own books.

Which book would you make your child/ren read.

I read everything I could lay my hands on when I was a kid, without censorship. My boys weren’t big readers, but they always got a bedtime story and we plundered the library. One of my favourites to read them was the hilarious and beautifully illustrated Frank Muir series about the afghan hound puppy, ‘What-a-Mess’ that always had me in tears of laughter. They and I loved everything Roald Dahl wrote, and later on, Terry Pratchett’s Diggers, Truckers and Wings. My little stepson loved Captain Underpants, and my 13 yr old granddaughter is, like me, an avid reader with a broad appetite from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

No idea. It’s an interesting concept though. Still thinking about it.

If you could write any genre which one would it be?

I like to make people laugh – and I thought I’d like to give crime a go. I found it much harder to inflict pain on someone than I thought, and so I’ve shelved it for now. I’m sticking to comedy – romance makes the world go round, and I’d like to spread my net a little wider into the relationships and dynamics of friendships. One day.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

All books teach you something about life – even if it’s how not to behave! My own novels taught me patience and determination, and also helped me to make sense of many tragic experiences. Writing, as well as reading, is often a form of therapy.

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose?

As an artist in my other life, I’m very lucky that my lovely publisher, ChocLit, allow me to paint my own covers. These are then tweaked by the experienced hands of the in house designers, to add the titles and blurbs, and edge details. I’m inordinately proud to have not only written the words but painted the covers too, and I love it when readers write to tell me they only picked the book up because they liked the cover pictures.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021?

I’ll just have a quick look on my Kindle – at the last count, there are almost 100 unread titles! I’ve just started reading Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak stories set in Alaska, I’m a sucker for Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway stories, and anything by Sue Moorcroft. My publisher has a fund of terrific summer reads, and I have many of those stashed away on my TBR pile!

 

Can “Dozy Rosie” spice up her life and prove she’s not boring?

Rosie Bunting has spent her life caring for others, often at the expense of her own hopes and dreams. But when she overhears somebody describing her as “boring”, she decides it’s time for a change.

Little does she realise that the outdoor pursuits weekend brochure handed to her at the local Art Café will kick start a summer that will see her abseiling down a Welsh cliff face in “eye watering” leggings, rediscovering her artistic side and unexpectedly inheriting an old fire engine. It also involves meeting hunky outdoor instructor, Gareth Merwyn-Jones – although of course he’d never be interested in Dozy Rosie Bunting … would he?

One thing’s for certain: Rosie’s path to achieving her hopes and dreams might not be smooth, but it’s definitely not boring.

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Marie Laval

This is Marie’s second book of 2021 and is most definitely on fire! Below Marie talks about her inspiration behind Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cover…

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Thank you very much, Claire, for having me on your blog today to talk about Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove, my latest contemporary romantic novel released by Choc Lit UK on 22nd June. I am a slow writer and as usual it took me over a year to write this story but I remember perfectly the three things that inspired me.

There was the photo of a yellow mobile library on a deserted road in the Highlands that an author friend posted on Facebook. I am not a very brave driver at all and I just couldn’t imagine driving a vehicle that size on narrow, winding roads in the middle of nowhere, but mobile librarians do it all the time, and they really are a lifeline for remote communities. It really does annoy me tremendously that the work librarians do is far too often unappreciated and unrecognised, and that so many libraries were closed these past few years. We used to have a small library in my village where children stopped on their way back from school. Sadly, it has now gone…

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Regarding the setting of the story, I knew I wanted an island, and read quite a number of books regarding the Hebrides, including the wonderful A Drop in the Ocean by Lawrence MacEwen about his family, his life and his work on the Isle of Muck. I finally chose the Isle of Skye with its glorious, breathtaking landscapes… but don’t try to find Arrandale, Mermaid Cove or Daniel McGregor’s ruined castle on a map of Skye because I made them up!  

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Finally I was very much inspired by a television series about the brave and selfless men and women volunteers at the RNLI. These people dedicate their time and risk their life to rescue people at sea, and yet are incredibly humble and modest. I have so much admiration for them.

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HappyDreamsAtMermaidCoveFINALFrom the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye … 

When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams …

However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?

 

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Check out my Meet The Family post with Marie HERE! and Which Books HERE!

 

Meet The Family – Anni Rose

Anni is one of Choc-lit’s new authors and I couldn’t wait to sit down with her to discuss her debut…

Welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” Anni…

What inspired you to write “Recipe for Mr Right?”author

Okay, I should say at this point, I have a fantastic kitchen. I love my kitchen. It was designed and built by my sister and of course, the book is entirely fictional, but a bad experience with a new kitchen a few years ago might have been the inspiration. And once I did enter ten competitions a day, but only for a month not a year. I did have some success – I became the proud owner of a “Write your own Will” book, a pair of rubber gloves, Ideal Home tickets and two tickets to a Donny Osmond Concert!

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

Having been on their “tasting panel” for about five or six years I knew how Choc Lit worked. I liked the fact I could submit a manuscript directly to them for a review by their “tasters”. I was completely blown away when I got the call to say the panel had liked my submission and they wanted to offer me a contract. Having read and loved so many of their authors’ books over the years, I felt a bit overwhelmed to be joining such an amazing line-up, but everyone has been so supportive and professional that I have enjoyed every step of the journey towards publication. And have you seen my gorgeous cover? This is just such an exciting time for me.

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

I think believe in yourself and enjoy the journey would be good advice. I’d also say, make sure you carry a notebook. You never know when an idea for a story will pop into your head, or you’ll see or overhear something really cracking that you just know you will want to play around with later.

meeting-1245776_640How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Rejections hurt. I know people say you shouldn’t take them personally, but it’s difficult not to. When you’ve spent so long working on a book, it does feel personal. I am lucky to be part of supportive writing groups who always encourage me to keep going.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Do it. There are plenty of courses and advice out there to help you with technique and give you encouragement, but they don’t have your imagination and can’t write your story for you. You need to start getting those words down on the page. And I’d say, join a writer’s group. Getting honest critiques from your peers is really useful and helps you develop as a writer far more than getting your mother to review it. “So many words dear, you have worked hard” was not the most helpful advice I’ve ever had.

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

I work in Registration and Bereavement Services, but love photography and am a huge fan of Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing. While you’re unlikely to find me dancing (no sense of rhythm), if I’m not working or writing, I can usually be found behind a camera, walking my dogs or eating cake.

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

back-to-school-2707089_640I write whenever I can, so it can be any time of the day (or night). I try not to go back and read what I’ve written the day before. There’s plenty of time for editing once the first draft is finished, otherwise I get caught up with rewriting and editing and before I know where I am, a couple of hours have passed in which time I haven’t written anything new. I do write directly on to a computer, but really love writing in long-hand and tend to revert to that if I get stuck on a particular bit. That’s my justification for buying new stationery – actually there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for a new pink notebook or gel filled pen! Oh, and I find I am most productive when not too far away from a large mug of tea.   

Which authors inspired you to write?

There are so many, I wouldn’t know where to start. I have always loved losing myself in a good book. But I guess crime (as long as it’s not too gruesome) and romance would be my favourite genres. Romance wise I was always first in the queue for a new Jilly Cooper or Jennifer Crusie. These days Jo Watson is always on my kindle, along with all my fellow Choc Lit writers’ books.

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

Now that’s a fabulous thought! Lily James and Cillian Murphy would have to be at the top of any short list for Ruby and Adam. I see Ruby as feisty and determined, but quirky and fun.

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They’d closely followed by a young Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. There would definitely have to be chemistry between my leading characters, so if either Lily or Cilian couldn’t make it, I think they’d be perfect. 

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

I have so many ideas swirling around in my head. They are all in various stages of completeness. Book two, is with Choc Lit and due out later in the year. All my books are set in my fictional town of Redford, they are standalone, but some characters do appear in more than one. Book two centres is another romantic comedy set around three women Jess, Maggie and Sarah who work together. Each woman suffers a personal catastrophe and can’t help but bring their personal problems to work. Are their working relationships strong enough to help each other through their own crises, while having to deal with an office merger that looks set to put them all out of work?

 

More About Anni

Born and raised in Berkshire, Anni emigrated to Wiltshire six years ago, where she lives with her husband, sister, two dogs, a cat and Midge, the grey speckled hen.


As a child, she could usually be found either reading or writing fiction, producing reams of stories over the years.
On leaving school, the need to earn a living sort of got in the way and her writing was limited to financial reports or employees’ handbooks, but a local writing course and an encouraging group of writing friends re-ignited the fiction flame many years later and Anni went on to have several short stories published in various magazines.


Anni would describe her writing these days as mainly modern romantic love stories with a healthy dollop of humour thrown in. Away from writing Anni can usually be found behind a camera, walking the dogs, enjoying one of her husband’s curries or one of her sister’s bakery treats.

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A sprinkle of luck and a dollop of fate …

Ruby Brooks is a little sceptical when her horoscope say she’s going to have a fabulous year – especially when she loses a boyfriend and a job in quick succession. Plus, a rogue kitchen fitter has run off and taken everything, including the kitchen sink!

So, Ruby takes luck and fate into her own hands with an unusual resolution – she’ll enter ten competitions a day, whether they’re for her dream Japanese holiday or a year’s supply of dog food (she doesn’t have a dog), and win her way to happiness.

But when a Valentine’s Day prize from a local restaurant results in chef Adam Finder (and his dog, Brutus) appearing in her life, is that luck or fate? And will Ruby ultimately find out that true happiness doesn’t need to be won?

 

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Which Books… Chris Penhall

About the same time as A Silent Child my 2nd book in the Lisa Carter series was released, I was recovering from reading an amazing book by Sarah Sultoon called The Source and I took some time out to talk to Chris about it, so it was only fair that on the eve of her book new book “Finding Summer Happiness” I returned the favor…

 

Which book do you wish you’d writtenIMG_0572.

There are many, many, many books I wish I’d written so it’s a very difficult one to answer. I’ve just read Grown Ups by Marian Keyes, and I’d love to have the ability to tell stories the way she does with such wit and warmth. Pride and Prejudice, obviously, as it’s perfect.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I’ve just had a browse in my bookshelves and I’m going to pick two – The cover of The Muse by Jessie Burton is gorgeous and I absolutely love A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. Creating a cover that draws people’s attention and somehow evokes the heart of a book is a real talent.

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Which was the last book that broke your heart.

I’m like a leaky tap so I can often be found crying at a book, but One Day by David Nicholls made me burst into tears on a plane to Portugal a few years ago. I was travelling alone so apologies to the people sitting next to me, whoever they were.

 

 

 

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I read all sorts of books but what comes out of my head is romantic fiction with some humour. I’d love to write a real laugh-out-loud comedy, and I’d also like to have the kind of brain that can produce historical novels. I think that being able to create an interesting and engaging story in which you learn historical facts too is an amazing talent to have.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

That is really difficult as I find that reading books can be very cathartic. I think I’ll go right back to my childhood and my love of books like the What Katy Did series, Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. Each one had strong interesting female characters at their heart overcoming all sorts of things. Possibly to my young, impressionable mind that was a good lesson to learn.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021?

I have just been out browsing around one of my local bookshops planning what to read next. When I go on holiday I have a real read fest – it’s like a mini book festival for me!  I can get through a lot of novels in two weeks and absolutely love deciding what to take in paperback and what to download on my kindle. The first three books on my list are Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls as I love everything he writes, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd by Jonas Jonasson as I thoroughly enjoyed The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared.

There are a lot more books on my to-be-read list and I’m slowly working my way through the Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction author catalogue too.

 

Finding Summer Happiness by Chris Penhall

You won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs …


Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people?


Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realises her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?

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I spoke to Chris last year as part of my meet the family series the interview can be HERE

If you’d like to listen back to my interview earlier this year on Chris’ blog you can find there HERE

 

Which Books… Gina Hollands

Gina Hollands is next up with her summer romance and I am already loving the play on words in the title name. Yours Trudy…

Which book do you wish you’d written. 9859

Bridget Jones’ Diary. A book series and movie deal starring A-listers – which author wouldn’t want that? Sales success aside, this was the first ‘chicklit’ book I read. I was 15 and thought it was incredible!

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I love the cover of Jessie Burton’s The Confession. I haven’t read it myself but bought it for a friend on the basis of the cover being beautiful. I’m fickle like that! They say not to judge a book by its cover but it’s human nature to do just that.

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Which was the last book that broke your heart.

I’m not good with sad things so try my best to stay away from anything I know is going to be depressing. There’s enough sadness in the world without reading about it, which is why I’d never read a misery memoir. However, I recently read Alison Moore’s He Wants and although it’s not a sad book as such, there was a part in it that stayed with me.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I like writing across genres. I started with a romance, went on to erotica then went over to sweet romance. My latest book, Yours, Trudy is a romcom, and my next book is going to be a crime. If I fancy writing a genre, I write it! One day I’d also like to write a non-fiction book.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

When you read fiction, you get a sense of what the world looks like through the author’s eyes. That I find interesting. The book that most made me think about ‘life’ was Matt Haig’s Midnight Library, which I couldn’t get enough of, but I think the largest lessons I’ve learned from books have come from non-fiction. Angela Duckworth’s book entitled Grit was an eye-opener. 

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021?

I really hope I do get to go on holiday in 2021! And if I do, I’ll be taking Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages; Blood on the Bulb Fields by Judith Cranswick, who I read about in Writing Magazine, and Finding Gina by Lizzie Chantree, which I ordered today because I love to find out what other Ginas are up to!

 

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How many positive words and exclamation marks can you fit into the space of one email?

A lot is the answer, if you’re Trudy Drinkwater. As ‘Head of People Happiness’, her cheery emails are carefully written to boost the morale of her ‘fellow finned friends’ at Pink Fish Web Design. Yay!

But, in reality, there is very little Trudy has to say ‘yay!’ about in her home life. Her marriage is all but over, she’s in a near constant battle to make her two chicken nugget loving teens eat anything vaguely nutritious, and the days when she and her husband were young lovers with big dreams seem very far away.
Can Trudy keep up the chirpy pretense of her day job, or does she really need a new start and a second chance at true happiness?

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I spoke to Gina when she released her first book “Little Village of Second Chances” as part of the meet the family series that can be found HERE

 

Which Books… Carol Thomas

We have hit the period in the year when the Choc-lit team start publishing all their summer books so to finish this month in style Carol Thomas’ A Summer of Second Changes. So I thought it was a great time to sit down with Carol and talk books!

Which book do you wish you’d written.

The Outlander series because I admire the depth of the research necessitated for the story. I also like the characterisation of the leads Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall and the chemistry they share. For those who know me, I’d like to point out that this answer has nothing to do with the author getting to spend time with Sam Heughan in a kilt!

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

Some people don’t realise published authors have little say in their book covers. I always prepare myself for the cover being different to how I imagined it, but when I got sent the cover for my latest novel, A Summer of Second Chances, I was amazed at how much I loved it straight away. It encapsulates so much of the story.

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

Winnie the Pooh, he has an optimistic worldview and, despite calling himself a bear of little brain, often shares inspirational insight. I LOVE him!

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

For my own reading, I purposefully avoid sad (or scary) books. With four children, writing, and teaching, I read to relax or for pure escapism. Having said that, I read My Sister’s Keeper with my daughter, and we both sobbed. And David Walliams’ Gangster Granny unexpectedly made my son and I shed a tear.  

Which books would you make your child/ren read.

Children who read for pleasure are proven to make more significant progress across the curriculum than their peers who are reluctant readers. With that in mind, I like to encourage my children to select books they enjoy – sharing and enjoying books together is what matters.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I think Jonny Duddle’s children’s book The Pirates Next Door could be rewritten to make a great romance novel. And I would like to rewrite Romeo and Juliet to be a romance instead of a tragedy – I hope for a happy ending every time I read or watch it. Though the fact it always makes me hope shows how well written it is, and that’s why it should be left alone.

If you could write any genre, which one would it be.

I love writing romance (pardon the pun), and I also enjoy writing for children. Writing horror would be an interesting challenge, but I am too much of a coward and fear I would scare myself.

If you could redesign any book cover, which one would you choose.

I am pretty content with my book covers and don’t tend to read books with covers I don’t like (I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there you go), and so I can’t think of one I would change.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

Judy Blume’s Are You There God It’s Me Margaret? I’ve chosen this for two reasons. Firstly, there is a foray into bra shopping. This was something I hadn’t experienced when reading it at age eleven. Secondly, it was the first book (other than Five Little Kittens that my mum used to read to me) I really enjoyed. You could say it taught me about the enjoyment of reading.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

A holiday in 2021 sounds like a dream at the moment but let’s hope it is one that will come true. If it does, then there is the minor issue of my children, who are unlikely to allow me the time to read three books. So, I think I would take my kindle and hope to read at least one of the many books on my to be read list.

 

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A heart-warming romance full of love, friendship and four legged friends!

Does first love deserve a second chance?

Ava Flynn sometimes feels like the clothes donated to her charity shop have seen more life than her, but ‘maximum dedication for a minimal wage’ is what it takes to keep her mother’s beloved wildlife charity, All Critters Great and Small, running especially in the village of Dapplebury, where business is certainly not booming.

But when Ava’s first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, suddenly life becomes a little too eventful. Henry escaped Dapplebury many years before, but now he has the power to make or break the village he left behind All Critters Great and Small included. Can Ava trust the boy who ran away to give both her and her charity a second chance?

 

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Which Books… Morton S Gray

The warmer weather looks to be nearing so tomorrow Choc-Lit have an extra summerary book being released by Morton. So of course I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d written

I guess it would be nice to have written one of the books that have remained popular over the years. Something like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, or North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It would be lovely to leave a lasting legacy with a book, one that’s made into films and television series and studied in schools.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I love book covers. Book cover designers put so much work into them. It would be almost impossible to choose just one. Some covers are also special if you know the story behind them, for example, I know that Sue McDonagh paints her covers for her art café series with Choc Lit. I tend to like covers that show you something of the story and make you curious. I’ll list a few that have appealed – Sycamore Gap, L J Ross, Echoes of the Runes, Christina Courtenay, The Daughter of River Valley, Victoria Cornwall.

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

I always say that a book that makes me cry is a good book. The last book I finished with a tear in my eye was Jane Cable’s Endless Skies.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

Having been writing for quite a few years now, I’ve experimented with several genres. My books in whatever genre tend to include a mystery and romance. I’ve written romantic suspense so far for Choc Lit, but I also hanker to publish timeslip, futuristic and historical novels. I’ve already got novels in these genres planned and in some cases almost finished. So watch this space.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

Again, it’s so hard to choose just one. My choice would probably be Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, as I get something different from it each time I read it and I have read it about six times.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

I’ll tell you the next three books on my to be read pile:-

Currently reading an advance copy of Eva Glyn’s The Missing Pieces of Us. Next up is an advance copy of Janice Preston’s The Cinderella Heiress. And then I shall be reading Carol Thomas’ A Summer of Second Chances.

 

 

Could a beautiful old house and a handsome stranger hold the key to a life-changing secret?

Rosie Phillips could be forgiven for not being immediately won over by Tanner Bryant. After all, their first meeting involves him knocking a tray of prawn cocktail over her very expensive dress at a charity event in the grounds of Lucerne Lodge.

But little does Rosie know how pivotal that awkward first meeting will be, or how the Lodge will become the unexpected backdrop for a summer spent finding out who she really is, and who she could be …

 

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Meet The Family – Lucy Keeling

Lucy Keeling has been a ChocLit author long before I was, so I was shocked to find out we’d not had a chat.

Welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” Lucy, I am looking forward to getting to know you…Image

What inspired you to write “Just Friends in Vegas?”

Just Friends in Vegas, which is out tomorrow is the third in my Friends series. Each book can be read as a standalone – but we all know it’s probably best read as a series tee hee.

So the inspiration for Just Friends in Vegas, well… I have to be careful what I say here because throughout the series I’ve been leaving clues as to what Mya’s profession might be, and this is the book where ALL is revealed.

My inspiration was looking at powerful women and how women hold power in male based arenas. But I also wanted to write a romance that had sexy enemies who are obsessed with each other but are also in competition. Ok I’m going to have to leave it there before I give any spoilers away. All I will say is that my books do have steamy elements to them (open door) and Smithy has been described as the master of swoon so…

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

They had a Search for A Star competition. And I thought why not. The fabulous and amazingly talented Christine Penhall won but I was and I still am more than happy to be her second.

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

I read something once that said some writers will only ever be dabblers. That they’ll never get past the first five chapters or something. And so of course every time I started to write I would get to that point and get stuck. And I believed for ages that, that was it for me. I was never going to become an author, I’d never be able to finish a book.

But, then I discovered that you could actually plan out a book. Like it didn’t just have to flow from my fingertips. But that I could map it out in advance, and that was a huge turning point for me. So I guess, if you’re struggling keep going and try different methods.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Not very well haha.

I’d like to tell you I’m better now but even a bad review can knock me for weeks, and whilst I understand and appreciate that reviews are for readers and not authors it still hurts. So I have a blanket ban on Goodreads, I don’t read any of my reviews over there and will only check Amazon reviews periodically.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Find your tribe and keep going.

The fabulous Evie Alexander has just done a blog post on her website about social media groups for writers that you can find here https://eviealexanderauthor.com/best-facebook-groups-for-a-romance-author/

There is no doubt in my mind that without the support of the fabulous people within these sorts of groups I wouldn’t have got published – I also wouldn’t have some of the amazing friends that I have now either. Writing is a lonely business and non-writers can’t always understand the struggle, or why you are celebrating a personalised rejection (rather than the stock rejection letter), so having people understand why you absolutely cannot write another synopsis and that you’d rather go ahead and write a whole other novel instead (not actually an option), can be really helpful.

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

I work full time as a trainer, and I have two young boys to chase around as well. But honestly, even if I could make a living from writing full time I don’t think I could. I need the inspiration that being around people and situations gives me.

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

I don’t have rituals per se but I do have to try and remember the following wherever possible:

  • It’s ok if you don’t get any words done today back-to-school-2707089_640
  • It’s ok if the house looks a mess
  • The hovering can wait until tomorrow it’s fine
  • New stationery DOES help – buy more
  • Watch your posture
  • You can’t and you won’t write perfectly first time, so don’t try, just get it down.

Which authors inspired you to write?

I’ve been reading romance since I was a teenager and there are just so many amazing authors from back then and each one of them inspired me. But I have many authors who are writing now that inspire me to write better. Leonie Mack, Emma Jackson, Lucy Mitchell, Rachael Stewart, Kiley Dunbar, Talia Hibbert, Sally Thorne, Kwana Jackson, KJ Charles, and so many more.

There are also some authors that I’m really excited about that have books coming this year too, such as Caroline Khoury, Lucy Mitchell, and although Helen Buckley’s new book is already out I haven’t chance to read it yet – but I can’t wait.

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

FOX 2103 Programming Presentation Post-Party

Hmmm, I always knew that Mya would be someone like Hannah Simone (Cece in New Girl)Gabriel-Macht-640x427

but Smithy is a bit Gabriel Macht (Harvey in The Suits).

 

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

I wish I knew. I’m going to keep writing and see what happens next lol. I would like to finish off the Friends series with Paige’s story, so we’ll see.

More About Lucy

Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters.

When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking.

Lucy is currently writing the third book in a Contemporary Romance series, the first of which was Runner-Up in ChocLit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition. This story has become her romantic comedy debut ‘Make It Up To You’ now titled Just A Boyfriend. The second book in the series ‘Just Friends’ has been described as ‘unputdownable’ and ‘A fabulous will they won’t they love story with moments of hilarity sprinkled throughout’ and is available now.

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Is love always a losing game?

When Mya is with Smithy, it feels like her eyes are constantly rolling. His wheeling and dealing charisma charms everyone but her. Well, that’s not strictly true – Mya is only human after all, and there’s no doubt the man is hot with his suits and swagger. It’s just that Smithy knows Mya’s secret, and she’s not sure she can trust him to keep it from their group of friends.

As they immerse themselves in the glamorous and mysterious world of ‘The Suits’, growing closer as a result, Smithy has to question whether his time with Mya is destined to become a case of ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ …

 

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Which Books… Angela Britnell

Angela has a new book coming out TOMORROW! So I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d writtenIMG_20200226_070347_179

I suppose it’s a bit of a cliché to say Pride & Prejudice but it’s true – to me it’s close to perfect.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

There are so many it’s hard to choose but I’ll go for Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – you’ve probably never heard of it but it’s a wonderful read and I think the cover fits the story so well. 

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

At the beginning of my new book ‘Spring on Rendezvous Lane’ Chip, the young son of my heroine is quite vulnerable – he often doesn’t “get” how the world and other people work and where his place is in it all – making me and his family and friends want to protect him. As the story progresses he begins to blossom but you’ll have to read the book to find out his full story.

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but for a romance writer I’m not an overly emotional person – occasionally something I read might give me a lump in my throat but to say it broke my heart would be exaggerating.

Which book would you make children read.

I don’t think you can or should make anybody read anything – I spent many happy hours reading to my three boys and encouraged them to read widely when they were able to do so but after that it was up to them.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I would rewrite Bluebell’s Christmas Magic as a historical gothic novel, give the ghostly grey friar a central part in the story and make Belthorn Manor a much creepier and scarier place!

If you could write any genre which one would it be.

I’m going to be cheeky and pass on this one because I honestly can’t think of one!

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose.

Definitely my first book ‘Truth and Consequence’ which looked as though it was designed by a five-year-old playing with Photoshop.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

That’s a challenging question but I’m going off on a tangent to say it must be the first book I ever read for myself – don’t ask me what it was because it’s lost in the mists of time but that set me on the path to being a voracious reader and later on a writer. To my mind literacy is the most crucial skill because if you can’t or don’t get the opportunity to master it so much else in life is out of reach.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

Holiday? Is that wishful thinking? The first trips we’ll take when it’s safe to travel probably won’t allow much time for reading but I’ll optimistically pick the new Harlan Coben – Win, Australian author Jane Harper – The Survivors and Phillipa Ashley – An Endless Cornish Summer.

 

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Can even the most seasoned traveller find a home on Rendezvous Lane?

‘Community spirit’ is not a phrase in travel junkie Taran Rossi’s vocabulary. As a former ‘third culture kid’ and now spicy street food connoisseur and social media influencer, he’s never really stayed in one place long enough to feel part of a community. And that’s just the way he likes it.


But a springtime stint house sitting for his grandmother on Rendezvous Lane in East Nashville could lead to a long overdue wake-up call. With the help of single mum Sandy Warner and her young son Chip, can Taran come to understand that sometimes it’s not about the place – it’s about the people?

 

 

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Angela’s other books can be found here.

 

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