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  1. I'm delighted to welcome Katy Haye on my blog today, to talk about her exciting YA fantasy romance The Last Gatekeeper, the first book in the Chronicles of Fane series.

     

     

    The Last Gatekeeper Cover Medium Web NEW

    Blurb

    Two worlds. A queen determined to rule both. And one teen girl who stands in her way.

    Zanzibar MacKenzie knows she’s a freak. She has EHS – electrical hypersensitivity – which leaves her trying to live a Stone Age life in the twenty-first century: no internet, no phone, no point really. 

    On her seventeenth birthday she discovers the truth: she can’t stand electricity because she’s half-fae, and her mixed-blood makes her the only person on Earth able to control the gates that link the fae and human worlds.

    With the help of Thanriel, an angel charged with keeping the worlds in balance, and Cal, an exiled fae, Zan – the girl who can’t flip a light switch – must now learn to control the elemental powers she never knew she had in order to defeat a queen bent on destruction. 

    It sounds enthralling, doesn't it? And at the moment The Last Gatekeeper is currently FREE. Grab a copy from Amazon: http://authl.it/B00P5DNUZY?d or in all other formats from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/572349

     

    About Katy

    Website Kate Oct14

    Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else's imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling.

    When not lost in a good book, Katy may be found on her allotment growing veg and keeping hens in order to maximise her chances of survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse or similar catastrophe.

     

    I asked Katy to tell us a bit more about herself 

    Have you always wanted to be a writer? 

    When I was four, pre-literate and being read a bedtime story by my mum I decided I wanted to make a living writing stories when I grew up. Nothing has changed. Writing is the most fun in the world – and I’d love to make a living at it.

    What do you like writing most?  

    I write young adult stories because they are what I love to read. YA fiction is the most exciting, imaginative writing around at the moment. And I’m very lucky in that I love the entire writing process – putting ideas together and doing “what if?” exercises while a plot forms; dashing out the first “dirty” draft, editing and polishing – although proofreading makes me a bit cross-eyed (lucky I’ve got other people who will check it for me!).

     Do you have a special place for writing? 

    I have the messiest desk in the world (probably – I’m open to competition), in what is very grandly called the music room. In fact, it’s a closed-in porch containing a piano, a cello and (at last count) four flutes (my daughter and I both play – although only one at once) – along with my PC and a filing cabinet. If I’m not there, my best place to write (because my netbook is too slow for the internet or social media, unlike the PC) is at the kitchen table with local radio on in the background. Most of my words are written there, often with the pressure of a kitchen timer ticking away to force me to concentrate.

    Are you a pantster or a plotter? 

    I started out as a pantster. After several manuscripts got consigned to a drawer at the 20k word mark I started plotting. I now love festooning a white board with different-coloured comments and four word summaries of chapters and scenes so I have a pretty good idea where I’m going. It makes getting past the 20 – 25k point so much easier – and once I’ve reached 30k it’s all downhill!

    Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?  

    Lord alive, no! I live the dullest life imaginable. I write fantasy because my rule is: “If you’re going to make it up, you might as well REALLY make it up”. Real life need not intrude. Having said that, I do get inspiration from real life events or people I see or read about, but by the time it’s been processed through my imagination it’s generally unrecognisable.

     What are you writing at the moment? 

    I’ve just finished a short story set in the world of Fane, where my first two novels are set. Then it’s back to edits for the first in a new trilogy about a group of teenagers in a place that’s a cross between a hospital and a school. They are all recovering from brain damage - but there’s something much more sinister going on behind the scenes... 

    What inspired you to write your books? 

    My Fane books came about when my hero (Thanriel, an angel) and Zan (a girl who doesn’t know she’s half-fae) strolled into my head and started telling their stories. I wanted to write about these two, then I just needed a world for them. That came together when my inner feminist pointed out the discrepancy between the gender balance in reality and what’s shown in the media. Panel shows bother me. You take a look at any and you’ll find the host is 95% certain to be male. Then most have the format of two teams of two. Of those four, three will also be male – and no one but me raises an eyebrow if all of them are male – and that’s supposed to reflect 50/50 reality? So, in Fane I turned that on its head. 80% of the Fane race are female – and they’re pretty kickass with it! After that it was just throwing in some deadly peril, a despotic ruler and some magical abilities, and I had my story.

    What time of the day do you write best? 

    Oh, do you know what, I’m quite undisciplined – any time. No, actually, that should read flexible. In my day job I work shifts, so sometimes I have time to write in the mornings, other times it’s in the evenings when everyone else has gone to bed. So long as the writing gets done I don’t mind when, and I am disciplined in that I know when I’m slacking off and I get twitchy if I don’t focus on writing for long. For example – I’m currently packing for a week’s holiday and I’ve decided I will take my netbook because it’s less stressful to be able to write if I want to, than forcing myself to take a break and wanting to write when I can’t.

    What are your hobbies? 

    Aside from the flute playing mentioned earlier, my other hobby is growing veg and keeping hens on an allotment very close to my home. I like to pretend I’m testing my survival abilities in case of apocalypse, but, to be honest, I’m not a natural gardener and if we had to live off what I grow we’d all be pretty thin. This year, if the apocalypse had struck I’d have to hope slugs and snails are nutritious, since that’s what I seem to have grown most of!

    What advice would you give to other writers? 

    1.       Ignore the voices in your head and get a proper job.

     2.       If the characters and scenes in your head still won’t shut up and go away, then you’re probably a writer. Write, keep writing, and then write some more. And make friends with other writers – you’ll need the support.

    Good advice, Katy!

    You can find out more about Katy and her work, here:

     Author Links

     Katy’s website: www.katyhaye.com

     Facebook: www.facebook.com/katyhayewriter

     Twitter: @katyhaye

     Make friends on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9848245.Katy_Haye

     Or watch Katy’s video How to Become a Writer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o03uWBH7bBE

     

    Thanks for dropping by Katy. Lots of luck with your book!

     

  2. My Friday Read this week is When Only Cupcakes Will Doa heartwarming romantic comedy by Daisy James.

     

    When Only Cupcakes_FINAL

     Blurb

    When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…

    Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…

    Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!

    Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…

    Buy Links 

    Amazon: amzn.to/22Cd9hN 

    Meet Daisy

     Daisy

    Author Bio

    Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. Her husband and young son were willing samplers of her baking creations which were triple-tested for her debut novel, The Runaway Bridesmaid. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

    Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter, especially if they have given any of the recipes in her book a whirl… photos are very welcome.

     

    I asked Daisy to tell us a bit about herself.

    I’m an avid baker. One of the best parts of researching my brand new novel - When Only Cupcakes Will Do - was experimenting with new recipes and exotic ingredients. A rainy afternoon spent in the kitchen, elbows deep in flour and sugar, brings back many happy childhood memories of doing exactly the same thing with my grandma during the school holidays. My sister and I would stand on a little wooden stool mixing, stirring and beating - and then came the best bit - being allowed to lick the bowl. Are we even allowed to do that nowadays?

    Whenever I indulge in a baking session in my own kitchen now, the fragrance of warm caramel and melted chocolate sends my thoughts zooming back to those carefree times of butterfly buns and jam tarts made from left-over pastry from my grandma’s apple pies that she made with fruit from the garden.

    For When Only Cupcakes Will Do I tested out a more contemporary selection of cupcakes such as coconut flavoured sponge with chunks of dried pineapple topped with rum-infused buttercream, raspberry cakes with prosecco icing and edible petals and blackcurrant sponges with vodka-tinged toppings. I also experimented with a twist on the carrot cake recipe and made beetroot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - a sort of red velvet version. I wasn’t sure about those, but they still disappeared within minutes of coming out of the oven. There’s never a shortage of willing samplers in my house!

    As the main character, Lucie Bradshaw, is an Italian pastry chef by profession I also had to create a number of Italian desserts, so I called in the experts - my friends Gino and Kate. My favourite was Cannoli - a thin, crispy shell made by wrapping the biscuit around a broom handle - crammed to bursting with sweetened ricotta cheese which can be flavoured with whatever takes your fancy. I added fresh cherries and white chocolate chips to mine.

    If I haven’t already whet your appetite here’s a lemon drizzle cake that’s just come out of the oven.

    Fancy a slice?

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    It looks delicious, Daisy! Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book!

     

     

     

     

  3. My Friday Read this week is a picture book called Sue's Cats by Peter Dean. It is a tale of a group of cats who explore a magical environment in the landscape of a Cyprus hillside. Peter has pledged a donation of £1 for every book sold to the Hillingdon brain tumour and injury group a charity closely associated to the Uxbridge Amblers walking football club.

    Sues Cats

     Book Info

    It is based on a real environment with real people and the three cats who all live in this magical place. The book is suitable for children aged 4-9. 

    Sue's Cats is Peter's first book. His second book is A Letter to Grandpa, a heartwarming tale of a bear family trying to persuade their grandpa, who is on his own, to come and live with them.  This book is for ages 2 to 6 years.

    Grandpa

     

    Buy Links

    If you'd like to purchase one of the books then contact Peter via his Facebook page or email:

    Facebook Page -  Peter Dean-Books

    Email - pete7thomas@outlook.com

     

    About Peter

    IMG_1676 (1)

    Author Bio

    I am 60 years of age and have been married to my wife Sharon for 39 years. She has been very supportive to my hobby and helped immensely with the distribution of the books. I have always worked in the building trade but am now happily retired.  I enjoy golf and I am involved with the Uxbridge Amblers walking football club. 

     

    I asked Peter to tell us a bit about himself

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    I started writing one year ago at the age of 59. Previous to that I had no inclination to write and had no inspiration from other authors. Once I started writing it seemed to release something within me and apart from children's stories I began to write poems, songs and short stories.   

    What made you start writing?

    It all started when an artist friend of mine was drawing some illustrations for a children's book.  It prompted me to have a go at writing my own children's story, the subject being my artist friends three cats, one of which is particularly mischievous.  As soon as I started writing, the story flowed.

    What are your writing plans for the future?

    I then went on to write another nine follow up stories which I hope to make into a series. My second children's book was the result of making a story to fit a redundant set of illustrations.  The result was rewarding and hopefully will lead to another series of stories.

    What did you find useful when writing your book?

    I think that observing my own grandchildren  helped me greatly to understand what might work. 

    What made you self-publish your books?

    I decided to have my books printed myself as the process of self publishing online did not seem to suit my books.   It's not the normal approach to publishing but it made it happen for me.

     Has the venture been successful? Would you recommend self-publishing?

    The books were available to me in the second week of July  2016 and in the first four weeks I sold over 200 books, mainly through social media.  I would strongly recommend this route rather than let an idea become dormant.  

    Ultimately I would like to get taken on by a publisher but if not, I am happy to carry on self publishing.

    Do you have a special place to write?

    I don't have a special time of day or place to write.  An idea may come at any time and that is where my mobile phone is invaluable.  I will make a note of an idea and expand on it later when the time feels right.  

    What top tip would you give to other writers?

    Writing for me is a relaxing escape and I since I started, a number of people have told me how they have wanted to write too.  I would advise anyone to put pen to paper or finger to phone!

     An inspiring story! Thanks for dropping by, Peter. Wishing you lots of sales!

  4.  My Friday Read this week is New England Dreams, a YA contemporary romance by Pia Fenton (aka Christina Courtenay). The book is the 4th instalment in the Northbrooke High series which features UK heroines clashing with US heroes in an American high school setting. Intriguing!

     

    NEW COVER_FRONT150dpi_ MED

    Blurb

    When opposites attract, can dreams come true?

    Staying in New England for a few months is just what Sienna Randall needs after all the family problems she's been dealing with at home in London. The last thing she's expecting is romance, so it's a total surprise when she ends up kissing a guy she meets on the flight.

    Kyle Everett is Sienna's complete opposite –  he’s clean-cut and over-polished, she has piercings and pink dreads. But he can’t resist making out with her. He is, after all, Northbrooke High’s number one player. Except Sienna's different from other girls. He’s definitely expecting to see her again – until they're separated by irate airline officials before he can get her number.

    Fate throws them together once more, but when Sienna turns up in Kyle's homeroom, neither admits to having met before. The chemistry between them is still there though – should they let it have free rein or should the attraction stay in their dreams?

    It sounds fascinating, doesn't it? You can buy a copy from Amazon:

    Paperback

    Ebook (Kindle only)

     And you can win a signed copy by leaving a comment on this blog. The best comment will recieve a FREE New England Dreams book. How  fantastic is that?

    About Pia

    ChristinaCourtenay 2

    Pia Fenton (aka Christina Courtenay) writes historical romance, time slip and YA contemporary romance, all published by independent publisher Choc Lit (some YA titles self-published).  She is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, she moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East. 

    Pia is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association.  Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan have both won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year (in 2012 and 2014 respectively).  Her latest novels are The Jade Lioness (historical) and New England Dreams (YA contemporary romance). Coming soon – The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight (time slip).

    I asked Pia to tell us a little more about herself.

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    No, I just wanted to be a reader and do nothing else, ever!  I deeply resented it whenever my parents tried to get me to go outside and do sports and things like that as I’d much rather sit indoors with my nose in a book.  But once I tried writing myself, I discovered that I really enjoyed it so I carried on even though it took me ages to actually get published.

    Has any author inspired you?

    Lots of authors have inspired me – probably mostly Georgette Heyer, Barbara Erskine, Johanna Lindsey and Susanna Kearsley, their stories are just superb!

    What do you like writing most?

    Time slip stories, where half is set in the past and half in the present.  That way you get the best of both and you get two love stories, not just one.

    Do you have a special place for writing?

    I usually sit at a small desk in my bedroom, but I can write anywhere as long as I have my laptop.  I like being surrounded by my dogs who sleep happily while I write (and sometimes give me inspiration for canine characters) – I have three of them.

    Are you a pantser or a plotter?

    Definitely a pantser!  But recently I have tried to be a bit more organised and write down the plot in bullet points before I start to write.  Usually I begin with one scene though, which comes into my mind fully formed, and then the story takes off from there and I just write.  Sometimes when I get stuck, I have to stop and do some plotting.

    What are you writing at the moment?

    I’m editing my next time slip book for Choc Lit, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight, and after that I will be starting on a new one.  I have a story that is half written which is demanding that I finish it – characters can be so insistent, can’t they? They’re in my head, nagging me!

    What inspired you to write this book?

    New England Dreams, my latest YA book, was inspired by a crazy thing I did myself once – kiss a complete stranger during a flight to Alaska.  (In my defence, I was a teenager and it seemed like a good idea at the time – teenagers are so impulsive, aren’t they?).  I think we are all inspired by things we do, see or hear – no experience is ever wasted – and one day when I remembered this incident the story started to form in my mind.

    What time of the day do you write best?

    NOT early in the morning, but pretty much any other time (I’m a night owl).

    What are your hobbies?

    I like genealogy, gardening (although I’m not very good at it!), reading of course, going to the movies and sometimes doing craft projects like sewing or crocheting.  I also love DIY – painting/decorating – so am always hassling my poor DH about doing up the rooms in our house.  Oh, and my latest obsession is going to the local auction house to buy Foo dogs (mantle spaniels) – I’m a terrible hoarder!

    What advice would you give to other writers?

    Find yourself a writing buddy, someone who you trust, and critique each other’s work, and be as supportive as you can.  I have found that invaluable!

    Author links

    Website:  http://christinacourtenay.com/

    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/christinacourtenayauthor?fref=ts

    Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PiaCCourtenay

    Paisley Piranha YA group blog: https://paisleypiranha.wordpress.com/

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4112359.Christina_Courtenay?from_search=true

     

     

    Thanks for dropping by, Pia. Wishing you lots of success with your new book.

    Don't forget,  readers, the best comment on this blog wins a free signed copy of Pia's book.