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  1. Oh, la, la!This week, Lynne Shelby has dropped in to tell us all about how her travels to France inspired her romantic novel, French Kissing.

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    Banks of the Seine

    Welcome, Lynne. First, can you tell us a bit about where you live.

    Apart from three years in Leicester when I was a student, I’ve always lived in London. I love the energy and vibrant atmosphere of a city like London, with its many theatres, museums and art galleries, its beautiful parks, fascinating history and lively night-life, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else! 

    Do you like to travel? What is your favourite means of travel?

    I love to travel, and especially enjoy exploring a foreign city on foot, with a map, a camera, a guidebook and a writer’s notebook. Visiting a city in another country often means I have to travel by air – I’ve had fabulous trips having flown to New York and Seattle - but I’m not a great fan of flying, and my favourite means of travel around Europe is by rail. Last summer my DH and I flew from London to Basel, but from there took the train to Berne and then Thun, spending a few days in each place, before continuing our travels to Milan, and then on to Verona, Bolgna and Siena.  

    Verona, Italy

    Verona, Italy

    On the first leg of our journey from Switzerland to Italy, the railway ran alongside the Thunersee, the clear blue sky reflected in the lake, the green slopes of the surrounding mountains dotted with clusters of chalets. As the train took us through the Alps, our view through the window changed to high, jagged peaks, still covered in snow. Once we were in Italy, the landscape became brown fields of maize and sunflowers and walled towns clinging to hillsides covered in dark cypress trees and umbrella pines. We would have seen nothing of this if we’d been in a plane, and it’s surprisingly easy to navigate the European railway network – although I’d recommend booking your tickets on the internet before your journey, and allowing plenty of time to find your platform at Milano Centrale, one of the busiest stations in the world!

    Thun, Switzerland

    Thun, Switzerland

    Can you tell us how your travels to France inspired your work?

    One of my favourite cities to visit is Paris, which is where the second half of my debut novel, ‘French Kissing,’ takes place (the first half is set in London). In the book, my English heroine, Anna, accompanies my French hero, Alexandre, to Paris – which gave me a brilliant excuse to visit it again for research. A stroll through Paris, with its leafy boulevards and pavement cafes, and the stone quays that run alongside the Seine, is a perfect way to explore the city and its iconic monuments, like the Eiffel Tower.

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    Anna and Alex approach the Eiffel Tower from the opposite bank of the Seine, walking across the Pont d’léna – which I think is the best place in Paris for photos - and taking the lift to the top of the tower, the view from the top being a must-see for any first-time visitor. From the Eiffel Tower they walk along the left bank of the Seine – and like many art-lovers, take a look at the masterpieces in the Museé d’Orsay, mine (and Alex’s) favourite Parisian art gallery, with its many Impressionist paintings. On their second day in Paris, Alex takes Anna on my favourite Parisian walk, starting at the Arc d’Triomph, strolling along the broad, tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Élyseé, to the Place de la Concorde, and then on to the Jardin des Tuileries, and the Louvre. Anna decides that everything she’s heard about the City of Light, that it is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, is true - and I have to agree.

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     Avenue des Champs-Elysees

    About Lynne

     Lynne Shelby with her debut novel French Kissing

     

    Lynne Shelby writes contemporary romance, because that's what she likes reading the most. In 2015 she was thrilled to win the Accent Press & Woman Magazine Writing Competition with her debut novel 'French Kissing.' She loves travelling and is inspired to write by the many wonderful foreign cities that she’s visited - Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice, New York, Copenhagen, Berlin and of course Paris, the city which inspired her to write 'French Kissing.' Lynne also enjoys visiting the theatre, and is currently writing a series of novels set in the world of showbusiness.

     

    You can find out more about Lynn at 

    Website:  www.lynneshelby.com  

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter 

     Twitter:  @LynneB1

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     French Kissing Blurb

     Anna Mitchel has been writing letters to her French penfriend, Alexandre Tourville, for fifteen years, but hasn’t seen him since an exchange trip when they were at school. When Alex, now a successful photographer, comes to work in London, Anna offers to put him up, but is astounded that the small, geeky boy she remembers is now tall, broad-shouldered and gorgeous. Anna s female friends are soon swooning over Alex s Gallic charm, and Anna s boyfriend Nick is soon extremely jealous of her friendship with an attractive single man. Then Alex has to return to Paris to oversee the hanging of his photographs in an exhibition, and invites Anna to accompany him so that he can show her the city he adores…

     French Kissing is available on Amazon and from Accent Press

    Amazon

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your travels, Lynne.

     

  2. I'm talking to blogger and author Jo Lambert on my Monday Meet Up blog today. Jo blogs at www.jolambertwriter.blog

    Author Pic (1) (1)

    Hi Jo, grab a cup of coffee and get yourself comfy. Thanks, Karen.

    coffee

    Now can you tell us a bit about yourself, why you blog and what inspired your love of books and what sort of books you like reading?

    Sure, let's start with a bit about me. 

    After completing secretarial training I then successfully completed an HNC in Business and Finance. My have jobs ranged from PA support at Board Level to Supervisory Management. In 2011 I left my full time job in our local hospital Pharmacy Department where I was Office Manager and PA to the Chief Pharmacist. I wanted a part time job share so I could devote more time to writing.  For two and a half years I worked part time as Office Administration Manager in Nuclear Medicine in the same hospital.  In May 2013 I finally left work to become a full time writer.   

    I live on the eastern side of Bath with my husband, a small grey feline called Mollie and a green MGB GT.  I love cinema, travel, red wine, rock music.

    My blog

    I began my blog as a means of marketing – to let people know about me as a writer, the books I had published and what I was currently working on.  It also became an outlet for general creative writing – pieces about life, holidays, music.  I love photography so very often I’d write about holidays and incorporate shots of where I’d been.  I began a weekly interview slot ‘Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s’ which is the oldest house in Bath and home to a restaurant where Bath Buns are a speciality.  This then morphed into Tuesday Talk when I upgraded the blog.  I also added book reviews, some independent and some which I did as part of the Brook Cottage Books Tour team.  As things began to expand, I moved my writing onto a separate website www.jolambertbooks.com and soon after created a dedicate site for my Brook Cottage Books reviewing. My current blog structure covers the general items I write, Tuesday Talk and any independent reviews I do for other publishers. 

    My Love of Books

    I could read before I started school. I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and had the complete set which I was very proud of.  I also had an uncle who taught in Strathallan School in Scotland and regularly sent me books for Christmas and birthdays. I got through most of the children’s’ standard such as Wind in the Willows, Children of the New Forest, The Secret Garden, The Jungle Books.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading.  It’s a great form of escape. I do have quite a wide taste – both historical and contemporary romance are my favourites and crime/suspense novels.

    It sounds like you really love books, Jo. What is your favourite book of all time?

    The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.   I received it as a Christmas present from one of my uncles when I was nine.  It was simply magical and I still have the book!

    How many books, on average, do you read a month? 

    As a reader and reviewer I get through quite a few books.  Around ten a month. It probably would be more if I didn’t write.

    Have you ever sat up all night because you were desperate to finish reading a book? If yes, what book was it?

    Yes I have to admit to doing this on several occasions.  The last time was when I read Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne.

    I haven't read that one of Sheryl's yet but I've read some of her others, she's a fantastic writer.

    Do you ever cheat and skip to the end of a book?

    No, the whole point of reading a book from start to finish is to enjoy the journey.  Having a sneaky peek to see how it all ends up would completely ruin the read for me.  I like surprises and seeing how the author pulls her hero/heroine out of tight spots.

    What sort of plots do you dislike reading?

    Chick lit is not for me. And I’m not one for light romantic reads either.

    What sort of things would you like to see in a novel?

    A strong plot and believable characters. Books where during the read I say to myself ‘well I didn’t see that coming’. With crime/suspense it has to be gripping, edge of the seat stuff and with romance lots of twists and turns before the happy ending.

    What is the most unusual place you’ve ever read a book?

    In church. When I was very small and my parents took me along to the Sunday service, to keep me occupied Noddy and Big Ears came too.  I can’t remember it happening but I was told the Enid Blyton characters were a very effective distraction and they didn’t hear a peep from me.

    What author would you most like to have a cup of coffee with? Why?

    George R R Martin.  I’d love to hear him talk about the inspiration behind all those different worlds in his Game of Thrones series.

    Do you have any other hobbies?

    I love photography and take my camera everywhere.

    Do you write? If so, what sort of things do you write. If not, would you like to be an author?

    Yes and I’m currently working on my eighth book.  I write romance with a difference.  There’s drama too – lots of it.  I make my hero and heroine work hard for their happy ever after.

     You can find out more about Jo at

    www.jolambertwriter.blog

    Jo's Latest Book 

     

    Watercolours in the Rain Cover MEDIUM WEB

     

    Blurb

     

    What happens to the future when past and present collide?

     

    JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

     

    Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

     

    LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

     

    As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

     

    WATERCOLOURS IN THE RAIN PURCHASE LINKS

     

    AMAZON.CO.UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4GRE5

     

     AMAZON.COM   Link:http://a.co/fjQMEo6

     

     

     

     

    Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Jo!

     

    ****

     

    Bring a little sunshine into your life!  Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with. Published by Accent Press.

     

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  3. I'm delighted to welcome Alison Knight to my Travel Thursday blog. Alison lives in Wiltshire but is presently holidaying in Mallorca. Lucky Alison!

    mallorca

    Mallorca

    Hi Alison. Can you tell us what countries have you visited or lived in?

    I visited France and Austria as a child, and spent a year living in the US as a teenager.  For the first twenty years of our marriage we didn’t go any further than France, but then one day my husband announced he’d won us a holiday in Thailand!  Fabulous!

    In 1999 I went on a trek along the Great Wall of China, then visited Beijing, Shanghai and Xian (where the Terracotta Warriors were discovered). I’ve also trekked through Israel, the Alpujarras region of Spain and the Sinai Desert.

     

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    Great Wall of China

    I’ve been to Thailand four times now – the last time I helped build a house as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. 

    I worked for international charities and had trips to Cyprus, Egypt and Central America.  I caught a bug in Honduras, was ill for six weeks after I got home and didn’t get sent on any more overseas trips after that.

    More recently, our family holidays have been in Italy and Montenegro. Right now we’re in Mallorca!

    Oh, I'm soo jealous, Alison! Can you tell us what's your favourite means of travel?

    For excitement, I’d recommend a tuk-tuk ride through Bangkok. Hold on tight!

    What country/place has made the most impact on you? Why?

    Everywhere I visit changes me in some way.  China is an amazing country, so different from anything I’m used to.  Honduras is beautiful but harsh with strong, resourceful people who were very kind to me. Thailand is heavenly.

    Great Wall of China

    Great Wall of China.

    Have you featured any of the countries/places you’ve visited in your novels? 

    I’m actually doing that at the moment. I’m using my experience of housebuilding in Thailand for one story and researching the history of the island of Mallorca during WW2 for another one.

    Has any country/place you’ve visited ever given you inspiration for a story?

    Yes. As well as the examples above, my year in the US inspired my first novel, Off the Record. Closer to home, I’m also inspired by London, past and present, and the beautiful county of Wiltshire, where I live.

    Off the Record cover

     

    Is there any country/place you would love to write about but haven’t visited yet?

    I have so many ideas, my list is always growing – Australia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and even the Ice Hotel in Sweden.   

    It sounds like you're going to be busy travelling a lot, Alison.

    About Alison

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    Alison has three novels published by Accent Press, under the name of Alison Rose. She grew up in London but now lives in Wiltshire.  She has been a lawyer, a childminder and a professional fundraiser.  She went to university at age 45, and now has a first class degree and an MA in Creative Writing.  She is co-founder of Imagine Creative Workshops (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk), a part-time lecturer at Wiltshire College and a freelance editor and proof-reader.  She’s married, has two grown-up children and two grandchildren.

    You can find out more about Alison and her books on her website at www.alisonroseknight.com

     

    Rescue Me cover           Rosie Goes to War

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your travels, Alison!

  4. My Monday guest this week is blogger Kerry Parsons. Kerry blogs at

    https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com/

     

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    Welcome Kerry, help yourself to a cake, and make yourself comfy. :) Thanks, Karen!

    Cakes

    Thank you for agreeing to guest on my blog.  First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, why you blog, what inspired your love of books, what sort of books you like reading. 

    Hi and thank you for inviting me to your blog, Karen. I'm 39 years old and I'm a housewife, married to Steve. I volunteer as our church treasurer. We have a 16 year old son and a 15 year old daughter. Steve also has an older son who is 21. We have a 5 year old Shih Tzu called Bella (hence my email address and Twitter name!) and an almost 7 year old rabbit called Cappuccino (who has always lived in the house, but loves to run around the garden with Bella).

    Bella Boo Bos                   Cappuccino

    Oooh, they are both so cute!

    I blog mainly because I love to spread the word about books and authors I love. It makes my day when someone says they have bought a book based on my review. I'm happy to support any author where I can, even if it's just featuring a Q&A or guest post.

    I can't really remember a time when I didn't love books, but I will always remember receiving a copy of Huckleberry Finn from Primary School, for 100% attendance, which I was over the moon with. I also have a copy of Jane Eyre which was given to me by my parents, for doing well at school. I still cherish them both.

     

    Jane Eyre      Jane Eyre dedication

    How lovely, Kerry!

    I enjoy lots of different books, but if I had to choose my favourite genres it would probably be crime and psychological thrillers.

    It sounds like you really love books, Kerry. What is your favourite book of all time?

    I'd probably have to say Jane Eyre. It's the only book I've ever read twice!

    How many books, on average, do you read a month?

    I would say I probably average 3 books per month. I could do with being able to read one per day though given my review list! ;-)

    Have you ever sat up all night because you were desperate to finish reading a book? If yes, what book was it?

    I've never sat up all night reading (otherwise I'd be fit for nothing the next day!). I have stayed up very late on many occasions though. Mel Sherratt's books always keep me up late. Also Caroline Mitchell books more recently and Louise Jensen, to name a few. These authors know how to keep you on the edge of your seat.

    Do you ever cheat and skip to the end of a book?

    I have never skipped to the end of a book yet. I hope I never have to! I have given up on a couple of books, but nothing recently and it's very rare.

    What sort of plots do you dislike reading?

    I haven't really come across anything I've particularly disliked reading, as yet.

    What sort of things would you like to see in a novel?

    Oooo, I'm not sure. As long as a book grabs me from the first few pages and keeps my interest throughout, I'm happy.

    What is the most unusual place you’ve ever read a book?

    Not very unusual really, but on an aeroplane. I have only ever flown twice in my 39 years so it's quite unusual for me.

    What author would you most like to have a cup of coffee with? Why?

    I'd love to have a cup of coffee with all of the lovely authors I've 'met' since starting my book blog, but if I had to pick one it would be John Pye. John is an author local to me, who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting in person as yet. He's an excellent writer and a lovely bloke.

    I've been very lucky to meet Mel Sherratt on several occasions. Also Sharon Sant (aka Tilly Tennant) and Alison Lingwood, all local to me also.

     Do you have any other hobbies?

    The usual things really, walking, TV, cinema and I love to bake! I even made my sisters wedding cake, which I was very proud of given it was my first attempt (and last!).

    Wedding Cake

    Wow, that looks amazing, Kerry!

    Do you write? If so, what sort of things do you write. If not, would you like to be an author?

    I don't write, no, and I have no plans to. I'd prefer to leave it to the experts!

    Me, Hubs and babies

     Kerry and family

    You can contact Kerry at:

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Kerry.

    ****

    Bring a little sunshine into your life!  Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with. Published by Accent Press.

    Threebooks

  5.  I'm interviewing Marie Laval on the Travel Thursday blog this week. Marie is going to tell us how her travels in France inspired her contemporary romantic suspense A SPELL IN PROVENCE.

    IMG 3227 La Roque sur Cèze

    Le Roque sur Ceze

    Welcome, Marie. First, can you tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live?

    Of course! I live in the beautiful, but very wet, Rossendale Valley in Lancashire. On a sunny day like today, it is an absolutely stunning place to be, but we do get quite a lot of low cloud, mist and rain too, and then it does feel much more gloomy.

    Do you like to travel? What is your favourite means of travel?

    When I was younger I really enjoyed flying and found it very exciting, even if I haven't really travelled that much. Things changed however when I had my first child. I became quite anxious about flying then. Of course, I often struggled with the practicalities of travelling with babies and toddlers. I vividly remember having to run in Frankfurt or Munich airports to catch my connecting flight, after stopping in the toilets to change a nappy, or waiting for hours in transit somewhere with bored, cranky children. Once my second son - then a six month old baby - caused a commotion on a flight because he put his hand in a tray of cream cakes the air hostess was carrying. The hostess had to throw the cakes away and a businessman complained very loudly about children being pests and depriving him of his pudding.

    I quite like travelling by train now. We went to Edinburgh in the New Year and it was great and completely stress-free. I am now planning for escapades by rail. 

    What countries have you visited or lived in?

    I spent holidays in the United States with family friends who lived near Chicago. I visited Moscow and Rostov on the Don because I studied Russian for A Level. I spent time in Germany, went to the Carnival in Venice, and I used to go to the Costa Brava in Spain a lot. For work I also went to Warsaw, and this had to be one of my most romantic memories... And of course, being French, I lived in France until I graduated from university. I lived in a village south of Lyon, which is called Saint Genis Laval and which features in my first historical romance - Angel Heart. In fact, Lyon too features quite a lot in Angel Heart. It is a beautiful, and atmospheric town with a rich past, beautiful architecture and glorious food!

    It sounds wonderful, Marie. And you said that living in France inspired your novel, A Spell in Provence?

    It certainly did. Although I can find inspiration for my stories from a song, a painting, a conversation overheard in a café or even a road map, I can pinpoint the exact moment when I got the idea for A SPELL IN PROVENCE. A few years ago, we visited the lovely town of Cassis during a holiday in Provence, and sat in a square for an impromptu picnic lunch. There was an old fountain nearby, with an inscription in Latin carved on the stone...and that was it!   

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    Fountains were always very important in Provence. According to an old Provençal saying 'Eici, l'aigo es d'or', which translates by 'Here, water is gold' - and no wonder, when you think how hot it can get in the summer and how parched the soil can be. Anyone who read the wonderful but heart-wrenching 'Jean de Florette' and 'Manon des Sources' by Marcel Pagnol, or saw the adaptations made for the cinema, remembers the hardship the characters faced and their anguish when the water supply ran dry.

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    A SPELL IN PROVENCE is set near Bonnieux in the Lubéron region of Provence, one of the many hill-top villages dotting the countryside. My heroine leaves England and buys Bellefontaine, a 'bastide' (an old farmhouse) she renovates and opens as a guesthouse....until eerie things happen and jeopardise her dreams. The hero of the story, Fabien Coste, is heir to an old aristocratic family and has turned his ancestral manor house into a luxury hotel. Most of the settings exist, but I have of course changed a few details.

    Provence is not only beautiful, it also has a fascinating history. Before the Greeks, and later the Romans, settled there, the Salyens were the largest Gallic tribe. By the 6th century BC, their main centre was Entremont, which is located on a plateau above what is now Aix-en-Provence. There were other centres, such as nearby Glanum, dedicated to the Celtic god Glanis and built around a spring known for its healing powers. The Salyens had the strange - some might say gruesome - custom of displaying the severed heads of enemies at the city gate. They left no writing but many statues of gods and warriors, some of them holding severed heads.

     Palavas les Flots001

    Palavas les flots

    So there you are. Fountains, beautiful hill-top villages and ancient Gallic tribes all play a part in my story! When researching and writing A SPELL IN PROVENCE, I loved surrounding myself with my holiday photos. I also asked one of my sisters, who is a far more talented photographer than me, to send me her snaps. And when I was back in England, researching and writing the story, I could imagine I was sitting in the sunshine, breathing in scents of herbs and flowers, and listening to the song of the cicadas.

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    Blurb for A SPELL IN PROVENCE

    With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel. Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château. As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.

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    A SPELL IN PROVENCE is published by Áccent Press and is available from http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00RVQO8RM

    and in print from http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/2529/13421/A-Spell-in-Provence

    About Marie

     MarieLaval (2)

    Author Bio

    Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful RossendaleValley, Lancashire, for the past few years. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher and in her spare time loves dreaming up romantic stories. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors, she writes both contemporary and historical romance. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influence her writing and all her novels have what she likes to call 'a French twist'!

    You can find out more about Marie and her novels at

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marie-Laval/e/B00A03UV3I

    https://www.facebook.com/marielavalauthor/

    https://www.facebook.com/marie.laval.9

    https://twitter.com/MarieLaval1

    http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/

    Thanks for dropping by, Marie, it's been really interesting talking to you. :)