Horses with Annie Rose

Annie has a new book out Recipe for Mr Super! As part of her Recipes of Life Serise so I caught up with Annie to talk Horses????

 

All my books so far have had dogs in, but in Recipe for Mr Super, I’ve been allowed to indulge my love ofauthor horses. A quick disclaimer – all horses in this book are based on horses I’ve known, but, except for Charlie Brown, the Shetland Pony – that was his real name, names have been changed to protect the innocent!

The names weren’t the only thing I made up, okay, I’ll admit I never evented. I have acted as groom, helped at cross country events, been a dressage writer for many, many dressage tests including some major competitions over a long period of time, but I just couldn’t face competing. So, it’s fair to say the eventing world in Recipe for Mr Super is entirely imaginary, except that one event is held at Tweseldown – a real place, and my absolute favourite eventing venue. A place I have spent happy hours, helping, or watching, some talented riders compete. I’ve even gone cross country schooling there on my own horse several times and loved the experience, but never had any desire to compete at any level.

IMG_6811People always tell me that the adrenalin high you get from doing well in competition is the ultimate thrill and worth the anxiety of getting ready to compete. I never agreed. Even the clear-round competition at the local show would have me hyperventilating.

I can’t remember when my love affair with horses started. I was very young. I’d ride anything whenever I had the opportunity, but the only person we knew back then with a horse was my godmother.

My first book was Black Beauty. I still have that copy, the colour plates in it are amazing and it would be my desert island choice. I’ve had it so long; I can’t imagine ever being without it. Photos 2 on 8 Jul 2022 at 20_28_28I was 11 years old, when a lady, my mother worked with, who had a pony, which was a bit of a handful, asked her if I’d like to ride it. Her own daughter had outgrown it, so they’d bought her a horse and needed someone to exercise the pony. I’ve always assumed my mother didn’t understand what a bit of a handful meant at the time, rather than she thought she could afford to lose her eldest daughter. The pony was a rig, with a mind of his own – initially I spend a lot of time on the floor, but it was a great learning curve and I loved him to pieces, spending all my free time at the stables. Eventually, I outgrew him too, but was offered the ride on another horse at the same stables, a lot steadier, and a true gentleman, until a permanent home could be found for him.

I’d been married less than six months, when I finally had the opportunity to buy a horse. I’d been having Beziqueriding lessons and hacking out at a local stable for some time, but it wasn’t a considered decision. I didn’t go out that day having decided to buy a horse, but I was told during a lesson that the horse I was riding, would be going to go back to the dealers and not available for lessons the following week. She wasn’t popular with clients other than me, being a head shaker and very green about everything. The deal I struck with my husband was that if I gave up smoking for a month, I could buy her. I never smoked again, I couldn’t, because although I didn’t tell him, I’d already paid for her.

We went on to develop a really special relationship, (both horse and husband). She taught me so much about unconditional love and trust. I like to think I taught her to jump. She’d only ever been driven, until shortly before she came into the riding school, and responded well to simple voice commands like, “left” or “right” and you had to tell her to “jump” if you wanted her to go over, rather than through or round any obstacle!

My biggest problem with her was that she hated being tied up and could untie herself from just about anything and sometimes her mates! She was a real Houdini, but having done it, she wouldn’t move further than the nearest hay net or patch of grass. She just didn’t like to be attached to anything.

Sadly, she was fatally injured in a road traffic accident, which left such a huge hole in my life that I was finally persuaded to look for another horse and found a huge tri-coloured mare. The picture IMG_7917is by the very talented equestrian artist Lydia Kiernan. I’m not aware that she ever met my horse, but this is just the most picture, it hangs on my wall. It has her facial markings spot on and has really captured her expression. This horse and I clicked, and I just knew I’d found somebody special. There were all sorts of alarm bells that should have rung. She had sarcoids, a cracked hoof, an irregular heartbeat, a dust allergy – I could go on, but the vet took one look at her and asked me what I thought I wanted.

I told him, I needed a horse, no bigger than 16 ½ hands to take care of me, to rebuild my trust in riding. A horse I could hack on my own, and maybe occasionally jump.  

The vet turned and said, ‘Then she’s perfect for you. I’m not going to vet her, because she’ll fail. Just one thing, promise me you will give yourself a year with her to build a relationship. There will be times during that year when you’ll struggle – wonder what you’ve done and wish you’d never bought her. You’ll get her home, think she’s perfect, but give it three weeks and she’ll go through that difficult toddler stage. She’ll start testing boundaries. Don’t let her get away with anything. Always be kind, but firm and soldier on. It will be worth it. If after a year, and I really don’t think this will happen, but if you haven’t bonded then you owe it to both of you, to find her another home.’ He issued a passport for her, and in it said she was 16 ½ hands – years later my then vet said, you do know she’s a lot bigger than that – don’t you?

We did bond and had sixteen amazing years together. She put a broken person back together and we both learned to trust each other. She overcame her fears about walking through water and I learned to accept that if something was really frightening, in horse terms, it was better to walk, or trot past it backwards!

I have just started having lessons again and recently met a lovely horse – a real black beauty!IMG_6999

 

 

 

Recipe for Mr Super by Anni Rose

 
Where’s a hero when you need him?
 
In Autumn Rigden’s case, enjoying semi-celebrity status on the other side of the world. Although Nick Flynn is no superman – talented horse rider and Super Sportstar of the Year he might be, but he has a habit of leaving Autumn in the lurch when she needs him most.

Anyway, Autumn is too busy with her new career to care about Nick. Okay, so she’s had to give up her OIympic dressage dream, her childhood home and beloved Shetland pony – and all to the benefit of Gordon, Nick’s money-grabbing father. But Autumn’s new ambition is to become an heir hunter extraordinaire, and with a promising commission and only a few weirdos demanding she prove they’re related to royalty, she’s all set.

But when Mr Super returns, will Autumn find that forgetting about horses and the Flynns is harder than she could have ever imagined?

 

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Doing the Research… Chris Penhall

As Summer starts to arrive in the UK, so do the Summer choc-lit books and where best to start? By talking to Chris Penhall, about the research that goes into her books especially her newest The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve.

 

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The books I have written are all set in places I know very well, and I feel the locations are characters in the stories. So, when I frivolously say I research my books when I’m on holiday, I sort of mean it and I sort of don’t.

The landscapes, sounds and smells of Portugal and the south Wales coast are so imprinted on my mind that I call on them when I want to for a particular scene. In my new novel, The House on the Hill – Lagos, where its set,  is very much a part of the action. I feel it’s my second home, and as with all of the places I write about, because I only visit for short periods of time, my experiences when I’m there are always intense and very vivid.

There is a lot of yoga, meditation, Zumba and a bit of dancing in this particular book too, and although not an expert in any of them, I do all of them regularly. So, once again, I have used my own knowledge of participating in classes, although I have never taught any kind of sport, exercise or dance. I’m just there to enjoy myself…

There is also one small scene set in a radio station. I cannot reveal what it’s about, but suffice to say that most of my working life has been involved in working in radio in some way or another, so something was bound to seep into one of my books at some stage. This particular bit is entirely fictional, but, honestly, it really could happen.

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When I’m writing – and I’m sure this is true of many authors – things that are going on around me can also find their way into the story. For instance, I did sunset beach yoga for the first time in October 2021 in Lagos, and after experiencing the real joy of watching the sunset on Porto Do Mos Beach, with only the sound of the gentle rolling of the sea next to me, It fed into the book somehow. Not in a big way, really, but that’s often what happens – these things often add extra layers to the story.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I subconsciously gather images and ideas wherever I go, and when I allow my imagination to run free, some of those memories find their way onto the page. So, I have been accidentally researching my novels for a very long time, and I never even knew it.

 

 

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Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.

But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.

Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?

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Which Books… Joanne Boden

Joanne is back with her next book and it’s about a village vet! I wonder if she’d be able to help me with my cat issues…

Which book do you wish you’d written. IMG_20210820_114508277_3

There are so many books to choose from. I love Nora Roberts, so it would have to be all of her books! If I had to choose one book by another author it would have to be The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I still have no idea how that book was her debut. It’s my all time favourite book and I remember buying it when it was first published in 2003. I can’t quite believe it’s nearly twenty years old.

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

Again, there have been so many. And I have to admit I am a bit of a cover buyer. The hardback of Joanna Cannon’s Three, Things About Elsie, is a firm favourite as the cover is decorated in battenberg cake. It’s just so pretty. The cover of House of Sky and Breath, Crescent City Book 2, is also beautiful as is the harback of Sarah Winman’s Still Life. As a side note I love all the clothbound Penguin classics. They are all beautiful. My husband bought me David Copperfoeld and Middlemarch for Christmas.

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

Ooh that’s an interesting one. I would love to put the characters of Martha and Patrick from Sorrow and Bliss in a bubble. I also have a fierce need to protect Feyre from A Court Of Thorns and Roses as she goes through so much at such a young age. Then there are Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows. I’d love to pluck them out of the world they are in and keep them safe.

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

Colleen Hoover’s, It Ends With Us. Loved that book, but oh my, I had a serious book hangover for a week afterwards.

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Which book would you make your child/ren read.

I have never made my boys read anything. It is their choice. But they have been brought up in a house full of books and they love to read. Anything goes!

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

It would still have to be romance because that’s what I write, but I would tweak it. I’d love to take The Hating Game and make it a cowboy romance, set on a ranch.  I can just imagine Josh as a tall and brooding cowboy and Lucy as a cowgirl in pink cowboy boots.

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

It would have to be romance. I can’t imagine writing in any other gentee to be honest.

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

Ooh that’s a difficult one. I have no idea and it’s all down to personal taste isn’t it? I am also not a cover designer, so I think it’s best left to the professionals.

 

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

Different books teach you different things, don’t they? But I suppose the one book that stands out to me as it had a profound effect on me at such a young age is Little Women, and it is still one of my all time favourite books. It taught me about female friendship, about the strength of family and featured such fabulous female role models.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2022?

 

We’re not going away this year but usually I take my Kindle when we go away. It’s just easier than carting around a stack of books. So, three books that I have on my kindle that I would love to read this summer are:

Breathe by Nicholas Sparks

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

I also have a selection of cowboy romance novels that I need to work my way through.

 

 

A Vacancy for a Village Vet by Joanne BodenFrom big city high-flyer to little village vet …


Hannah and Daniel were teenage sweethearts, but then Daniel left their sleepy village of Middlefern and his grandfather’s veterinary practice behind for the bright lights of London.
 
Now, fifteen years later, the prodigal grandson has returned to temporarily take over the village practice with a veterinary qualification and his dog, Sammy, in tow. Daniel is ready for rabbits with tummy aches, guinea pigs who’ve lost their squeak, plenty of cow complaints and a whole lot of memories – both good and bad. But is he ready to see Hannah again?

Of course, a high-flying city vet like Daniel was never planning to stay in Middlefern for good – especially given his history with the place. But could another, even more important, vacancy convince him to change his mind?

 

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A Day in The Life Of…. Kirsty Ferry

As you may have gathered from the Blog Post Anni Rose posted as part of the blog hoop in for new book A Burning Lie. My life evolves around Football training, Air Cadets, The Fire Service and the occasional novel writing. I was looking forward to hearing about what Kirsty does with hers days….

 

This is quite a hard piece to write – each day is different, and contrary to what people might believe I do Kirstyas an author, I can’t drift around in a haze of creativity, writing all day as I have one of those things called a ‘life’. By that, I mean I have other commitments like a family and a day job and can’t always devote time to writing, much as I’d like to. I haven’t written anything substantial, really, since September – part of that was a decision I made after releasing three books in one year. I wrote them in lockdown and just thought that was enough really for the time being. I have released two more this year and one is coming out at Christmas – and that’s a lot of lockdown writing. Thankfully, now restrictions have eased a bit I can do other things. I have, for example, started an art class, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years, and we had three days in Glasgow which was lovely. Maybe I should write about one of those days!

Coffee is vitally important and I will start each day off with a one. I’m a monster without it! So our second day in Glasgow we visited the Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street for coffee and a square sausage sandwich for breakfast; then we found our way to the Clockwork Orange subway and went to, variously, the Kelvingrove Museum, the Hunterian Museum, the Rennie Mackintosh House, up to the Cathedral and had a pit stop at a donut place before the Museum of Modern Art. My donut and coffee was much needed

donutI had taken my trusty notebook and pen to Glasgow in case inspiration struck – I refused to cart a laptop up there, even though I usually would take one on holiday as writing is a pleasure and a nice way to settle in for the evening in a holiday cottage. But as we were on the train and limited luggage-wise it wasn’t practical and, from experience, I knew I wouldn’t write when it was such a short, busy break. Well, I didn’t even open my notebook, even though there was lots to inspire me (some of the artworks were incredible and told such stories – the portraits at the Hunterian, and the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists were fantastic – and I saw some Pre Raphaelite works, some Impressionists work and even a Van Gogh) so I was pleased I hadn’t taken my laptop. On the train coming back, though, I got one of those lovely emails from the publishers that ping in and tell me edits are ready to be worked on, and I couldn’t wait to get home and settle down to them. I might have worked on them under the influence of a glass of wine and a takeaway, but it was a really nice end to the holiday.

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I am still writing, and being ‘an author’, but slowly! I am a little way through a novella but had to put it to one side to do edits on Edie’s Summer of New Beginnings, and then I was working on expanding Holly’s Christmas Secret (the train edits!) to make it novel length and appropriate for trade paperback. I will have the third Padcock one lined up to edit soon, which is another Christmas book, so new material isn’t happening very quickly but I’m working on other things. I’m squeezing some time in to do this blog at Costa, for example, before I head to work as I’m back in the office more, whereas I spent lockdown working from home.

So I don’t really have a typical day as an author. Things seem a little chaotic right now, but when I am in the writing zone, I do like to set aside some time either in the afternoon if it’s a non-work day, or in the evening to write, and I can get quite a lot of work done in those sessions. But right now I’m struggling to fit it in. But I will get back to it – it’s like my coffee. I have to do it, otherwise I’m a monster and all the characters in the stories I have yet to tell will get really, really cross at me!

 

 

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Can Edie rediscover her artistic mojo and become a ‘Watercolour Wonder’?

Edie Brinkley went from rising star on the London art scene to hiding out at her gran’s cottage in the little village of Padcock after a series of unfortunate circumstances leave her almost too panicky to pick up a paintbrush.

When celebrity artist Ninian Chambers rocks up in the village to film Watercolour Wonders, a new TV art competition, Edie is horrified – especially as he played no small part in her decision to leave London.


But, with the support of the Padcock community, and one very special fellow contestant, could Ninian’s show ultimately offer a fresh start for Edie and her art career? Or will Annabel the sixties’ style stealer, along with make-up artist Tallulah and her ‘Caravan of Hell’, sabotage her summer of new beginnings?

Part of the Padcock Village series but can be read as a standalone story.

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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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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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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

"Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala

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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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@JoBodenAuthor                      Facebook-Xperia Jo Boden Author

 

 

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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