Meet The Family – Victoria Cornwall

I’m back with another long termer when it comes to this next issue of Meet The Family. She has published SIX!? novels with Choc-lit and she’s back with her Seventh! Waiting for Our Rainbow!

What inspired you to write “Waiting for our Rainbow

I’ve always had an interest in WW1 and WW2. As I’ve written a novel about WW1 (A Daughter’s Christmas Wish), it was Victoria Cornwall picinevitable that I would write a story set during WW2. Memories of American G.I.s arriving in Cornwall and American tanks being hidden in a local wood inspired me to research this time in Cornwall’s history. Waiting For Our Rainbow is the result.

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

It used to advise to edit on paper. However, technology and environmental concerns have moved on since I started writing, so my advice would be to edit on the laptop and then activate your Read Aloud tab to listen to your manuscript. You will be surprised how many errors your eyes have missed but your hearing picks up.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

I would say don’t give up the day job. Some writers earn a good income, the majority do not. It’s best to go into this profession because you love to write and not because you want to be rich and famous. If you do earn enough to support yourself, then that’s a bonus.

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

Playing with my grandchildren. I have three all under the age of 2 ½ so it gets quite bus

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

One of my self-published novels was a finalist in the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction. I’d decided to self-publish at that time as I was finding it difficult to secure an agent for a historical romance. I became aware of Choc Lit Publishing at the event and was encouraged to submit my next book to them. They liked it so much that they took on my self-published novels too – and every book I’ve written since!

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Any type of rejection is painful. Rejections of manuscripts are no different. At the time I did not realise that even the most successful authors have a past littered with rejections. I found the experience crushing and almost gave up writing and submitting. If it was not for the event I mentioned earlier, I probably would have given up. I still find it hard to understand why some books are published and others are not. I suspect there are some brilliant authors who have not had the opportunity to shine. It is no wonder self-publishing has become so popular in recent years.

Which authors inspired you to write?

I would have to say Winston Graham, Catherine Cookson, E.V.Thompson and Daphne Du Maurier


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

I would rather they were brilliant unknown actors rather than famous stars who steal the limelight from the main story. Waiting For Our Rainbow is about an ordinary American soldier meeting an ordinary young woman in extraordinary times. I would rather the viewer felt it was happening than they were watching a star play a role. However, if Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola was available to direct/produce it, that would be amazing! I can dream, can’t I?


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

I do need a morning or an afternoon to be set aside for writing before I can begin to write. I can’t just grab thirty minutes here or an hour there. Writing is a slow process for me and I need to get into the scene before I begin to write. I do plan/plot my books, which is very useful as it helps me to pick up the story where I last left it.

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

I have more WW2 stories to tell and one day I hope to share them with you..

More About Victoria Cornwall

Victoria grew up on a farm in Cornwall and is married with two grown up children and three grandchildren. She likes to read and write historical romance with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

Her books have subsequently reached the finals of the NEW TALENT AWARD at the Festival of Romantic Fiction, the RNA’s JOAN HESSAYON AWARD, the 2021 RNA’s Goldsboro Books HISTORICAL ROMANTIC NOVEL AWARD. Her books have also been twice nominated for the RONE Best Indie or Small Published Book Award by InD’tale magazine.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association

logo_thumb800@VickieCornwall                     Facebook-Xperia Victoria Cornwall Author


pinterest-logoVickie Cornwall                      index Victoria Cornwall





Waiting for Our Rainbow original


Would you give your heart away if you knew it could only end in goodbye?

It should have been a time of romance and excitement for Anne – but it’s 1941 and the war is raging. So instead, she spends her days repairing spitfire wings and reminding herself that the real sacrifice is going on far away from her Cornish village.

When the news breaks that America has entered the war, it brings cautious hope to Anne and her family. And eventually, as the Jeeps filled with GIs roll in, it seems their little community is to play a pivotal role in the next stage of the fight.

But the Americans don’t just bring Hollywood glamour and optimism, they also bring something more tantalising – so when Anne meets handsome Joe Mallory, she has to remind herself of exactly why he’s there; that any relationship between them could only end in goodbye.

But is the inevitability of ‘goodbye’ powerful enough to stop what has already begun to blossom?

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Meet The Family – Juliet Archer

Unbeknown to a lot of people Juliet has been a choc-lit author for quite sometime…. Though she has been lurking in the background she is back with a new book in time for CHRISTMAS and I kinda feel like I should be asking a different set of questions to a Choc-lit pro

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

What inspired you to write “Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise

Hong Kong itself. For me, it embodies the ultimate East-West culture clash – an idea that inspired the first meeting between Ryan Hawke and Pip Smith, the hero and heroine of my book. Juliet Archer

I’ve wanted to set a story in Hong Kong for a long time. My husband spent the first part of his life in Kowloon, and I felt as though I knew the place – or his version of it! – long before we went there in 2018 and 2019.

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

I’d say to myself: ‘Obviously, you care what happens to your characters – just make sure your readers do too!’
What I mean is, I can get so invested in my story that I forget to stand back and get inside the mind of a reader – e.g. ask myself what would make a reader care (or not) about a particular character, or what a particular scene is delivering in terms of their development.

I find it a challenge to be objective and that’s why, at the editing stage, the feedback from Choc Lit/Ruby Fiction’s Tasting Panel is invaluable.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

‘Go for it!’

Writing is one of the best forms of self-expression I know. However, it is worth thinking about who you’re writing for. Is it yourself, your friends and family – or do you want to reach a wider audience?

9780062720467-ukIf you want to reach a wider audience, then you need to do your research about how best to do that. It’s as much about what you write – that is, what is likely to sell – as it is about the marketing of the finished product. Writing for yourself, or friends and family, brings greater flexibility. And who knows? You might also reach a wider audience with something that you wrote just for you.

Finally, I’d recommend Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Over the years, I’ve found this an excellent source of wisdom.


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

My day job is full-on, which means that my non-working hours are precious and tend to get filled with family and friends. So, as with many authors, writing is very much fitted around other things – I just wish there were more hours in the day!

But writing is ‘me’ time and I love it. If I wasn’t doing it, I’d go to the gym more. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

It wasn’t easy, but I just kept working at improving my writing – and my ‘sales pitch’.

And these days there’s so much information out there about different people’s experiences – you know you’re not alone!

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

I was Choc Lit’s first author!

My first book, The Importance of Being Emma, was their debut title. It was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan for Comedy Romance, and to win the Big Red Read Book of the Year 2011 Fiction Award.

Since then Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction have gone from strength to strength. They have a wonderful team – it was a no-brainer to send them Hope, Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise!

Which authors inspired you to write?

First and foremost, Jane Austen. She was the inspiration behind my first two books, The Importance of Being Emma and Persuade Me, which are updates of two of her novels. I love her witty insights into the human heart.

Another inspiration is Lee Child. Even though he’s writing a different genre, his books are real page-turners with impressive plotting.

The stories I wrote as a child were usually inspired by Enid Blyton, Lorna Hill and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer (Chalet School series) – and are best forgotten!

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

Ooh, lovely question! I’m going with an American to play Ryan and a Brit to play Pip – even though these days many actors can put on either accent.

Matthew McConaughey – at least the younger version! – has the same ‘look’ as Ryan, images


I’d go for Vanessa Kirby or  to play Pip. They both have the right height and build – Vanessa would just need to dye her hair, like she did for her Princess Margaret role in The Crown.


As for Jack, Pip’s brother and hero of my first book about the Smith family, One Summer Weekend, the only possible choice is Richard Armitage. Preferably at the age he was when he played John Thornton in the BBC’s North & South, as that was my inspiration for One Summer Weekend!



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

I get up very early, and that’s often my writing time – although I need endless cups of tea to keep me going! If I’m writing later in the day, a glass of wine (or two) has been known to help.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t get as much time as I’d like for writing. When I do, I’m sure I’ll develop lots of routines and rituals!

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

Shorter gaps between books, as I wind down the day job?!

My next book will be my third about the Smith family, the long-promised sequel to One Summer Weekend. This time the focus will be on Jack …


More About Juliet Archer

Juliet Archer writes award-winning romantic comedy for Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction. She has been known to spend many happy hours matching irresistible heroes with their equally irresistible chocolate counterparts – watch out for the dark nutty ones!

Her debut novel, The Importance of Being Emma, won the Big Red Read Book of the Year 2011 Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her second novel, Persuade Me, was shortlisted for the 2011 Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read Award.

She has written two books about the Smith family: One Summer Weekend and Hope, Mistletoe & a Christmas Promise. You can also read her short stories: Incense & Insensibility in the Love Match anthology, and Love Rules in the Kisses & Cupcakes anthology (both Choc Lit).

Juliet was born and bred in North-East England, and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and temperamental cat. She has two grown-up children, one in London and one in the USA, and has recently discovered the joys of grandchildren. Her non-writing career has spanned IT, company acquisitions, marketing and project management.

logo_thumb800@Juliearcher                     Facebook-Xperia Juliet Archer


Hope Mistletoe and a Christmas Promise by Juliet ArcherWhen a Christmas promise becomes hard to keep …

Pip Smith knows she owes it to her family to hold on to the festive traditions that have been a comfort since the year everything changed – but this Christmas she’s going to need a miracle to keep everyone in her life happy.

After she’s dumped by her fiancé, an invitation to visit a friend in Hong Kong in the run-up to the festive season seems to offer Pip the perfect escape – and she’ll be home for Christmas, of course. Except her escape ends up becoming far more complex than she intended, when she becomes involved with arrogant American Ryan Hawke and his niece, Shelby – a little girl whose most heartfelt Christmas wish is for a proper family.

Will Pip keep her Christmas promise – or will it be more of a compromise, with the help of a little hope and mistletoe?

Linked to One Summer Weekend but can be read as a standalone story. This is Pip’s 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.



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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Meet The Family – Joanne Boden

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

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

What inspired you to write “Escape to Little Bluewater Bay

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

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

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

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

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

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

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

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

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

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

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

Which authors inspired you to write?

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

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

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

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Chris Hemsworth playing the role of Noah Scarlett Johansson as Willow     



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

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

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

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

More About Joanne Boden

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

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

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


@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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Meet The Family – Berni Stevens

Berni Stevens has many strings to her bow, not only is she a cover designer but she also finds time to write a Christmas book.

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

What inspired you to write “Laughing All the Way on the Jingle Bells Express

Traveling in and out of Central London fairly regularly, it would be impossible not to notice the sheer BERNI_newsmallamount of commuters glued to their phones or iPads as they waited for the tube. We’re probably all guilty of it to some extent, but more and more it appears most people cannot be parted from their portable devices. I started to wonder what we must all be missing …  It was really a mixture of that feeling, plus a love of a mysterious invitation, (slight nod to Mrs Christie here), and fancying an ‘older’ version of The Polar Express for a bunch of thirty-somethings. Why should the kids have all the fun at Christmas after all?

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

Read more and write more, because whatever you do is never enough.

You are Choc-Lit’s superstar cover designer, what made you want to write, what came first?

Am I? Thank you – what a lovely thing to say.

I’ve always done both from an early age. I used to write stories and ‘illustrate’ them. I think it’s the result of being an only child – always in a quiet corner drawing or writing. My son was the same – although we have a lot more of his early work than I do of mine. (Probably just as well). When, aged ten, I went for the interview at the local Grammar school, I was asked what career path I wanted to follow. Very confidently, I replied I was going to be an artist and an author. They didn’t accept me. But I did win a national senior essay competition when I was fourteen, which made me feel better!

What’s the first thing you do when you receive instructions for a new cover?

Write the title in my work book 🙂 Then read the brief, and ask questions if I need to.

Question markIf you could redesign a book cover either yours or someone else’s which one would you choose?

Ah, now that is easy to answer. I would absolutely LOVE to design the ultimate cover for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. With a mega huge budget …

What would you say to someone who wants to make book covers?

There’s a lot more to it than most people think. We used to have a saying amongst the art department in my last publishers, ‘Everyone’s a designer.’ (Usually after the weekly cover meeting). So my first piece of advice would be, ‘go to art college.’ And once there, obviously study graphic design, typography, photography and print.

Someone once asked me if I could tell when a cover hadn’t been put together by a designer, and I said, ‘From any distance, yes.’ They asked why. I said ‘Kerning.’

How long have you been with Choc-lit?

It must be getting on for ten or eleven years now. My first book was published by Wild Rose Press in 2011, and I’d designed a couple of covers for Choc Lit then.

Which authors inspired you to write?

Agatha Christie, Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu, Mary Shelley, Byron, Emily Bronte, Alan Garner, Tolkien, Nora Roberts and bizarrely, James Herriot (real name Alf White). He’s a strange fit here I know, but his humour and love of animals just pulls you into the pages. I worked for his publisher for three years. In fact, I designed his 80th birthday card! (I never met him sadly.)

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

To be honest there’s such a vast cast of characters in Laughing All the Way, it’s a difficult question to answer. I would prefer young unknown actors to take on the roles, some actors are just too well known _methode_times_prod_web_bin_631748fa-99b3-11e9-872e-73f33f6fa5f5for one particular role … as in Aidan Turner who I thought was completely brilliant in Being Human but only just about OK in Poldark, in spite of being drop-dead gorgeous – and don’t get me started on Da Vinci. But of course, a cast of unknowns would never sell the series or film (my son’s in TV development, so I know this for a fact).


 More About Berni

Berni Stevens lives in a 400-year-old cottage in Hertfordshire, with her husband, black cat, an ever-growing family of goldfish who seem to think they’re piranha, and occasionally her son when he needs feeding up! She trained in graphic design, and has worked as a book cover designer for over twenty-five years.

Her love of paranormal fiction began at school when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and she’s been a dedicated fan of the fanged ever since. She’s on the committee and book panel of The Dracula Society – a London-based literary society for fans of gothic literature, film and theatre. She also designs their quarterly magazine.

Berni worked for many of the big London publishing houses before going freelance, and now works both for publishers and many self-published authors. Any ‘spare’ time is taken up with dance and Zumba (she’s a licensed Zumba instructor), going to as many rock concerts as she can, and hiking canyons every summer in the stunning Utah desert.

Dance Until Dawn, a paranormal romance, was Berni’s UK debut with award-winning publisher Choc Lit, and was followed by the sequel, Revenge is Sweet.

One Magical Christmas, was Berni’s first festive RomCom, and her second RomCom, Izzy’s Christmas Star, came out in 2019, with Izzy’s sequel, It’s Only Rock and Roll available from February 2022. Berni’s 2021 festive book, Laughing All the Way on the Jingle Bells Express is available from November 30th 2021.


@Berni_Stevens1                      Facebook-Xperia Berni Stevens







If you received a mysterious invitation for a fun-filled festive train ride the week before Christmas, would you go?

When teacher Dee Nicholls receives her invitation, she isn’t sure what to make of it. Surely it’s some kind of joke to get her out of bed early on a weekend? Perhaps a clever festive marketing ploy?

But as the Christmas countdown begins, it becomes clear that Dee isn’t the only “Jingle Bells Express” invitee. There are other people out there who have received the same invitation: Tom the intern, Rachel the aspiring writer, Dylan the musician and his dog Muttley – and they’re not the only ones!

Could the unusual festive journey they eventually take together, show them all the true meaning of Christmas, and also that happiness is sometimes right in front of you – if you just take the time to look?




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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.

lily-james-1 cillian-murphy-1280x720

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.


@AnniRoseAuthor                          Facebook-Xperia  Anni Rose Author



Anni Rose Author                    foto





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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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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

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.


@Lucy_K_Author                           Facebook-Xperia  Lucy Keeling Books


index Lucy K Author


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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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Meet The Family – Helen Buckley

When Helen joined the Choc-lit Ruby-lit family I was keen to sit down with a new member of the family for a chat…

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Hey Helen, and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I am really looking forward to learning more about your book “Strictly On Ice ” especially after I had the pleasure of reading it myself and Wow!

What inspired you to write “Strictly on Ice?”

I’ve always been enthralled by the beauty, physical prowess, and artistry of Olympic figure skating, and I’m a big fan of Dancing on Ice too. It was so much fun to write a book about the sport, with lots of drama and romance thrown in too.

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

They seemed like a really good match for my books. They are award-winning publishers of romantic fiction, and they are incredibly supportive and encouraging. I’m thrilled to be working with them.

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

Start sooner! For years I convinced myself that I couldn’t write a book. To me, it seemed an impossible feat, like running a marathon. Then once I started, I couldn’t stop. I wish I had started writing earlier.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Oddly enough they didn’t worry me too much because I had already made up my mind that I would be rejected – I had low expectations! While I was submitting to agents and publishers I carried on writing, honing my work, perfecting my pitch, and developing my series, which I then successfully submitted to ChocLit.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

I would say go for it, as you never know what may come of it. Perhaps you have a story to tell that people need to hear? Have a go, take a chance, and good luck!

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

UntitledMy career background is in the charity sector, but I gave up work to look after my children. I fit writing around looking after two very energetic boys!

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

With two children under two I have no time for rituals. I barely even have space to write. As long as I have my laptop I’ll make it work, even if it’s writing under the duvet in the dark of night so as not to wake the baby, or writing in the kitchen while I cook. I have become a genius at multi-tasking!

Which authors inspired you to write?

Catherine Cookson, Donna Tartt, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Stephen King. An eclectic mix of authors I love and admire.

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

Tom Hardy for Jamie – he’s got that rugged gorgeous look and could definitely portray a rugby player. Tom_Hardy_by_Gage_Skidmore



There’s an Australian actress called Jessica De Gouw and I think she would be a good match to play Katie.


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

I’ve got more books coming out with ChocLit so keep your eyes peeled! Strictly on Ice is the first in a series of standalone books about romance and fame. The next book is due out later this year, and there’s a sneak preview of it in the back of Strictly on Ice.

More About Helen

Helen Buckley lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and two sons. After working in the charity sector in the UK and abroad, she turned her hand to writing and her first novel, Star in the Shadows, was published in 2019.

She writes any moment that she can, enthralled by stories of fame, romance, and happy ever afters. Apart from being addicted to writing and enjoying soft play with her sons, she’s an avid reader, action-movie fan, and chocolate addict.


@HelenCBuckley                            Facebook-Xperia  Helen Buckley Author


index Helen Catherine Buckley



Strictly on Ice final cover image

When falling in love comes with the risk of falling flat on your face …

Former Olympic skating champion Katie Saunders is well known for her ‘ice queen’ persona in the press. On the face of it, perhaps Katie should have forgiven her former skating partner and ex-boyfriend, Alex Michaelson, for the accident that shattered both her ankle and their Olympic dreams – but she just can’t seem to let it go.

When Katie reluctantly agrees to take part in a new TV skating show, it’s only because she’s desperate for cash. What she didn’t count on is the drama – not only is she partnered up with infamous love rat rugby player Jamie Welsh, but one of the judges is none other than Alex Michaelson himself.

As the show progresses, will Katie be shown the hard way, once again, that romance on the ice should remain strictly off-limits?




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Meet The Family – Ella Cook

Ella and I signed for Ruby Fiction at around the same time as I did and we took part in the Choc-lit festival last year. So with her first book finally being released I was so excited to sit down for a chat again.

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Hey Ella, and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I am really looking forward to learning more about your book “Beyond Grey”


What inspired you to write “Beyond Grey?”

A truly horrible journey home. We’d been visiting my parents, and got caught in a truly terrible storm around 30 miles from home. We’d come too far to turn around, and we were miles from services. It was all too easy to imagine an accident could happen. So that’s where the opening line and the storyline in which Jenn dies unexpectedly came from. 

As to the idea of life after death, and that spirits could be around us and watching over us even after they’ve left our world? It’s something I’ve always believed in. There have been moments of inspiration, feelings of guidance, and white feathers in my life too. 

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

I’d read a lot of their books in the past, and knew the name. I saw the Ruby imprint at about the same time my amazing group of writing friends were nagging me to start submitting (and stop being such a wimp). The stars aligned and here we are (though maybe there was some guardian angel type intervention too?) 

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

Scrap the self-doubt. Quit the pity party (because I was good at that!) and get on and WRITE. Write what you love, and what you would want to read, and hopefully others will love it and want to read it too. 

Oh, and get a decent lap desk. I’m terrible for writing on the couch, and it’s not good having my laptop on my lap! 

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


Probably cooking, or crocheting. Or reading. Or video-calling with friends. Although, there is a 15,000 piece jigsaw of star constellations taking up half the dining table as well that we need to finish. It’s too cold for gardening, and we’re back in lockdown again! 


How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Really badly. 

When I first finished Beyond Grey, I sent it to a couple of agents, got no replies, and moth-balled it. Which was one of the silliest things I could have done. But it does mean that I got to meet the amazing team at Ruby, and that my debut is right in the middle of a pandemic.  

Beyond Grey is primarily a story about healing from grief, and finding the light beyond the agonising grey of bereavement. It’s about hope, and who doesn’t need a bit more of that right now? 

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Just do it. Open a notepad – or a new document – and just write. Learn the basics – things like punctuation, structure, how to tag dialog – and then just write. And don’t get disenchanted when your first drafts are less than perfect. You will almost never read the first draft of anything from a good writer: It will have been reviewed and edited – probably multiple times – before you get to see it. So expect to edit too. 

Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?notebook-4048796_640

I don’t really have any. I work full time, so write as and when I can. The nearest thing I probably have to a ritual is making sure I have a big cup of tea nearby. I also always try to jot down notes to myself as to what I want to write next – it makes it so much quicker and easier to pick up the next day! 

Which authors inspired you to write?

There have been so, so many. My reading taste is eclectic: Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pearce, Enid Blyton, Judy Blume. And most recently, Ann Evans. 

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

A bit a of mix I think. There will always be love and romance of some kind in my books – that’s just who I am. And hopefully humour as well, because I think it’s needed in life. And there will always, always be hope and happy endings. 

More About Ella

Ella’s been obsessed with books since she was a toddler. She decided to become a writer as soon as she realised that stringing letters together in the right order could actually be a career.  

She grew up in the outskirts of London, where fairies lived at the bottom of her Grandma’s garden, so it isn’t surprising that she still looks for magic in everyday life – and often finds it. 

When she’s not living in a fantasy world of her own creation, she writes bids and develops programmes for children’s services. She lives in rural Warwickshire (where there are probably more fairies) with her husband who is ever loving and understanding, and makes her gallons of tea in magical cups that can keep drinks warm for whole chapters.  

Throughout lockdown, Ella’s spent a lot of time cleaning (who hasn’t), crocheting rainbows, and writing. She’s got two new novels in progress – but did take a few breaks to write a stories (featuring a lot more dinosaur poop and talking animals than her usual style) for some very special youngsters spending birthdays in shielded lockdown.  


@EllaCookWrites       Facebook-XperiaWritten by Ella


Check out the YouTube video of Ella, Helen and myself chatting during the Choc-lit festival

thumbnail_Beyond Grey by Ella Cook

What if you became an outsider in your own life?

Jennifer Hughes doesn’t have an extraordinary life, but that doesn’t matter – she loves her family and enjoys her job as a teacher. In her eyes, her unextraordinary life is utterly perfect.
But then, in the blink of an eye, Jennifer finds herself cut off from everything she knew and loved, confined to a strange new world and forced to watch from a distance as her family and friends pick up the pieces.
Can Jennifer hold her perfect life together, even though she’s not living it herself




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Meet The Family – Marie Laval

Marie Laval is another one if Choc-Lit’s international writers. I am really looking forward to catching up with Marie and learning all about her books and her life across the pond.

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Bonjour, Marie and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I am really looking forward to learning more about your book “Escape to The Little Chateau.


What inspired you to write “Escape to The Little Chateau?”

It was a family holiday in Provence, Clare. Being from Lyon, I often holidayed in the South of France as a child, and I always loved the area – the sunshine, the picturesque villages, the vibrant colours and the riot of scents… and the fountains. There are fountains everywhere – some were very grand and ornate like in Aix-en-Provence, others a plain stone trough with only an old tap spurting fresh water.

One fountain in particular captured my imagination. It stood on a secluded square in the small seaside town of Cassis where we had stopped for an impromptu picnic. As soon as I saw it and read its Latin inscription, I knew I had the basis of a plot.

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

I liked the idea of the panel reading submission and making a recommendation, and they have fantastic authors who I love and admire. Having been with Choc Lit for a couple of years now, I am delighted with the care and attention they bring to the whole editing and publishing process and with the gorgeous covers they have designed for my novels. They are great publisher to work with.

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

I would tell myself to be patient! It takes a long time from the moment you send your story to your publisher to the day the book is published…

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

school-2276269_640I do have a full-time job as a teacher and I fit my writing around it, but I can’t ever imagine not writing…I always have so many stories swirling in my mind, so many stories I want to tell…It is also a great community to belong to. I have made such great friends, some I meet regularly (although not in the last few months, unfortunately), and others I only ‘talk’ to on social media.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

It wasn’t easy, Clare. In fact at one time my partner said that I should stop writing because I was only making myself miserable and I had enough rejection letters to wallpaper the backroom! I didn’t listen to him, of course. I carried on writing and submitting, and one day, I had an offer of publication…

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Read lots, attend workshops if you can (although these may be virtual in the current circumstances), talk to people, and most of all write every day in order to keep in touch with your characters and their emotions.

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

balcony-1834990_640I write whenever I can, which means that I often doze off on my keyboard late in the evening. One of my favourite and most productive times for writing is early Saturday and Sunday morning when my family is still asleep and the house is quiet.

Which authors inspired you to write?

There are so many it would be impossible to choose, but my passion for writing started at an early age, when I still lived in France, so the authors who influenced me the most where French. Joseph Kessel, Colette, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Maupassant, to name but a few. As a teenager, I also loved Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins-Clark, and I devoured Harlequin romances!

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

It would be a dream come true if the story was ever adapted for the cinema or television… tumblr_mezvn71Z8n1s02bw9o1_400

However I cannot think of anyone I would cast as Fabien, except a young Alain Delon or a young Jude Law, which of course would be impossible!

photocall-in-time-with-justin-timberlake As for Amy, it would have to be Amanda Seyfried. She is brilliant and has a very appealing combination of vulnerability and quirkiness…


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

I do have a number of projects I am hoping to complete in the next few months – three romance novels, including a Christmas story for next year. I am also hoping to revise and republish three historical romance novels which are all very dear to my heart.

More About Marie

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. Best-selling LITTLE PINK TAXI was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit.  A PARIS FAIRY TALE was published in July 2019, followed by BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC in November 2019. She also writes short stories for the bestselling Miss Moonshine anthologies, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.


@MarueLaval1          Facebook-Xperia Marie Laval Author



Will Amy’s dreams of a Provençal escape come true?

There are many reasons Amy Carter is determined to make Bellefontaine, her farmhouse hotel in the French countryside, a success. Of course, there’s the time and money she’s put in to making it beautiful, but she also has something to prove – particularly to people like Fabien Coste.

Fabien is the owner of the nearby château, and he might just be the most arrogant, patronising man Amy has ever met … unfortunately, he’s also the most handsome.

But as rumours circulate in the local community and secrets about the old farmhouse begin to reveal themselves, Amy quickly sees the less idyllic side of life at Bellefontaine. Could Fabien be the man to help prevent her Provençal dream from turning into a nightmare?

This was previously published as A Spell in Provence by Accent Press in 2015. This is a revised, edited and updated version. Published October 2020 by Choc Lit.



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Check out Marie Laval on the Choc-Lit website for more information on her  books!